EU to push Turkey on immigration

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said yesterday that Greek efforts to secure greater support from the European Union in its fight to curb illegal immigration had met with success after EU leaders attending a summit in Brussels agreed on the importance of migrant repatriation agreements being honored. The move was seen as a nudge for Turkey, which has failed to hold up its side of a bilateral pact with Greece to repatriate illegal immigrants arriving on Greek territory from the neighboring country. «Greece’s positions were understood absolutely and taken into consideration in the conclusions,» Karamanlis told a press conference in Brussels yesterday afternoon, noting that leaders had agreed on the need to further «sensitize» Turkey to issues of migration as an EU candidate. Specifically, it was agreed that the EU should seek to forge new repatriation pacts with migrants’ countries of origin and with «transit countries» such as Turkey and Libya. In addition, existing bilateral pacts on repatriation, such as the one signed by Greece and Turkey in 2003, should be honored, delegates agreed. Another significant decision highlighted by Karamanlis was one to boost the activities of the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex to curb illegal immigration in the southeastern Mediterranean region. There was no response to Greece’s appeal for the creation of a joint European coast guard, which is reportedly regarded as «premature.» As for the official focus of yesterday’s summit, which was the fallout from the global economic crisis, Karamanlis noted that EU leaders had decided to step up supervision of the European Central Bank system and push through reforms to boost employment.