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