Talks in Greece on Mal­tese EU Pres­i­dency’s se­cu­rity, mi­gra­tion and asy­lum pri­or­i­ties

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Carmelo Abela held cor­dial dis­cus­sions with his Greek coun­ter­parts re­spon­si­ble for De­fence and Home Af­fairs re­spec­tively, con­cen­trat­ing pri­mar­ily on mi­gra­tion, asy­lum, and se­cu­rity in the light of the min­istry’s top pri­or­i­ties for Malta’s im­pend­ing Pres­i­dency of the Euro­pean Union. The meet­ings were held dur­ing a one-day visit to the Greek cap­i­tal last Thurs­day, and talks fo­cused on shared ex­pe­ri­ences, know-how and ap­proach with re­gard to mi­gra­tion via the Mediter­ranean Sea and the se­cu­rity at the EU’s south­ern bor­der.

With the Greek Min­is­ter of Na­tional De­fence, Panos Kam­menos, it was agreed that the two coun­tries should ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties of fur­ther en­hanc­ing de­fence co­op­er­a­tion be­tween South­ern Euro­pean States such as Malta, Greece, Italy, and Cyprus, while stress­ing the need that all EU Mem­ber States re­alise that the mi­gra­tion is­sue is best dealt with through a com­mon Euro­pean strate­gic ap­proach.

Min­is­ter Abela also met the Greek Min­is­ter for In­te­rior and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­con­struc­tion, Pana­gi­o­tis Kouroum­b­lis, who was ac­com­pa­nied by Al­ter­nate Min­is­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Pol­icy, Ioan­nis Mouza­las, and Al­ter­nate Min­is­ter for Pub­lic Or­der and Cit­i­zen Pro­tec­tion, Nikos Toskas. Both sides ex­changed views on the way for­ward for the EU’s poli­cies vis-àvis mi­gra­tion and asy­lum.

While in Greece, Min­is­ter Abela also vis­ited the gov­ern­ment-run Eleonas tem­po­rary refugee ac­com­mo­da­tion cen­tre. The camp, lo­cated in the west of Athens, pro­vides shel­ter for around 2,300 mi­grants of var­i­ous na­tion­al­i­ties, but pre­dom­i­nantly Afghan and Syr­ian. He was shown around the premises by Vas­sileios Pa­padopou­los, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary for Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy, and Dim­itris Tri­fonas, one of the camp man­agers. The Min­is­ter had the op­por­tu­nity to meet and talk with refugees and mi­grants, per­son­nel, Euro­pean Asy­lum Sup­port Of­fice (EASO) staff, and NGO vol­un­teers.

“Ir­reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion is a chal­lenge that can only be bet­ter con­trolled and man­aged through a com­mon strat­egy agreed among all EU Mem­ber States and our in­ter­na­tional part­ners,” Min­is­ter Abela said at the end of the visit. “Dur­ing its Pres­i­dency of the EU, Malta will leave no stone un­turned to en­cour­age a con­sen­sus on the EU’s way for­ward in deal­ing with both the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal di­men­sions of Mi­gra­tion. We need to en­sure that those mi­grants who de­serve asy­lum or pro­tec­tion re­ceive them with­out un­nec­es­sary de­lay and are in­te­grated into our com­mu­ni­ties, while those who do not qual­ify are re­turned as ex­pe­di­tiously as pos­si­ble. In the mean­time, the root causes of ir­reg­u­lar mi­gra­tion must be tack­led se­ri­ously, also in the light of the Ac­tion Plan set out by the Novem­ber 2015 Val­letta Sum­mit on Mi­gra­tion, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the coun­tries of ori­gin and tran­sit.”

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