Gov’t plans new migrant centers

Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos yesterday heralded the establishment of new reception centers for the thousands of illegal migrants entering the country and called for increased funding from Brussels to tackle «what will become a major issue for the European Union in the near future.» «We must do all we can to curb the phenomenon of illegal immigration by helping (migrants’) countries of origin and their residents,» Pavlopoulos said following talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The two men discussed a draft EU treaty on immigration and asylum that is to be finalized at a summit next month. Pavlopoulos is expected to press European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for additional funding for the creation of new reception centers, arguing that Greece is faced with monitoring 16,000 kilometers of sea coast, the largest external sea border of any EU member state. Athens is also to propose the creation of a «European Asylum Office» to take the heat off Greece, which has the largest number of outstanding asylum applications of all EU states. The announcement by Pavlopoulos came a day after port authority officials on Samos issued an alert, saying that the local migrant reception center was flooded with 260 additional immigrants over the weekend. The weekend arrivals boosted the number of migrants at the center to 380. The immigration treaty, a French initiative, aims to boost legal immigration into EU countries and curb illegal arrivals by boosting sea border inspections. Greece last year received 112,000 would-be migrants, according to statistics from the Interior Ministry.