Gov’t and Frontex to work more closely

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis yesterday presented an action plan for tackling a burgeoning problem with thousands of undocumented immigrants entering the country that foresees closer cooperation between the ministry and the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex, tighter border controls and the deportation of those migrants who are determined to be ineligible for asylum. During his meeting with visiting executive director of Frontex Ilkka Laitinen, Chrysochoidis stressed once again that Greece is unable single-handedly to cope with the influx of undocumented immigrants into the bloc and that improved cooperation with the EU’s border agency would make a real difference. «Greece cannot be the only one serving the basic principles adopted by member states on asylum and immigration,» he remarked. The action plan unveiled by the minister foresees the establishment of a «return mechanism» which essentially would entail the enforcement of a bilateral treaty for the repatriation of migrants to Turkey. Chrysochoidis did not comment however on whether Turkish authorities, who have long flouted this bilateral pact, have now agreed to hold up their end of the deal. The minister proposed that a practical way of boosting cooperation between the Greek coast guard and Frontex would be for the EU’s border-monitoring agency to set up a regional office in Greece. There had been no reports of a response to Chrysochoidis’s proposal by Frontex by late yesterday. Frontex officials currently participate in coast guard patrols along the Greek-Turkish sea border aimed at turning back smuggling boats.

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