Greek Minister: We Will Not Become a Gateway For Illegal Migration
As Europe braces itself for a new wave of mass migration in the wake of the United States and NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Greece’s conservative-leaning government has vowed not to let their country act as a gateway for migrants headed for Western Europe’s welfare states, as it did during the 2015 migrant crisis.
While addressing the parliament last week amid an increasingly chaotic situation in Afghanistan, Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis said: “Greece will not accept, as in the period 2015-19, to be the gateway to Europe for illegal migration flows, in violation of Article 31 of the Geneva Convention.”
During the parliamentary discussion which saw politicians debate a piece of legislation which, if passed, would accelerate deportation procedures, Mitarakis stressed that under the direction of the center-right New Democracy party, Greece has managed to regain control of immigration and as a result its international credibility too.
“Migration flows in the last twelve months have decreased by 86%,” he said, adding that in the past seven months, the number of asylum seekers and migrants living in reception centers had decreased by 77 percent on the Greek islands and by 45 percent on the mainland.
The migration minister’s words come roughly one week after the Greek government announced the completion of a twenty-five-mile-long barrier along the Turkish border that was erected to stop flows of Afghan migrants from entering Greece and the European Union.
So far this year, Afghan migrants and asylum seekers have made up nearly half of all arrivals to Greek islands, per figures from the United Nations.
Over the weekend, following a brief visit to the Turkish border with Greek Defense Minister, General Konstantinos Floros – the head of the Hellenic Armed Forces – said that Greece’s border northeastern border defenses were “impregnable”.