Franco-Greek immigrant plan

Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and France’s Minister of Immigration and Integration Eric Besson yesterday sent a joint letter to the Spanish government, which currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, proposing an upgrade in the powers of the EU’s border-monitoring agency Frontex to crack down on illegal immigration. The proposals listed in the letter, sent to Spanish authorities ahead of an informal summit of EU interior ministers due to start in Toledo today, include «closer operational cooperation between Frontex and migrants’ countries of origin and transit countries.» The Franco-Greek initiative also proposes «the examination of the possibility of regular chartered return flights at the expense of Frontex.» Visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said that he recognized the burdens posed by «Greece’s particular geographical location.» He praised the government for its «courageous initiatives» and called for more substantial EU support. But he was less flattering about Greece’s system for processing migrants’ asylum claims, noting that «the situation in Greece is as bad as it could be.» «People who should be receiving protection are not and many people are entering and staying illegally, which poses a security risk,» Guterres said, proposing the use of more sophisticated screening techniques at the border. On Monday, Prime Minister George Papandreou heralded the creation of a new independent agency for the processing of thousands of immigrants’ asylum claims.

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