“The special role of Greece” 4/12/2017

On December 4, 2017, the 6th session of the seminar entitled “The special role of Greece” took place at the European Parliament office in Athens. 

Hellenic Police Lieutenant General Zacharoula Tsirigoti stated that “There is a need to establish a European Return Mechanism with the aim of increasing returns to countries of origin of the new incoming populations”. Hellenic Police’s contribution to the dismantling of organized trafficking networks, in cooperation with EUROPOL is of particular importance. With regard to returns, the Hellenic Police is seeking effective implementation of the Return Directive as stated in the Malta Declaration in February 2017. In collaboration with IOM Hellenic Police aims to increase voluntary returns, an important aspect of EU policy. It also wishes to work closely with Turkey through three legal texts (ie Joint Declaration 2016, Bilateral Greek-Turkish Return Protocol and EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement) despite the latter’s negative stance. The main policy of the Hellenic Police is to cooperate with the various organizations involved, to exchange information, experience and best practices.

The Director General of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, ELIAMEP Mr. Thanos Dokos, in his speech he emphasized on the difficulties and challenges that the EU is going to face (and Greece in the future), regarding the major issue of population movements. As he said, the global population is projected to increase in the future with a corresponding increase in migration trends. The example of African countries (Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, etc.) is typical. Effectively, Europe will be called upon to handle large numbers of migrants in the future, despite the xenophobic and racist tendencies that are developing within its borders.

Concluding, he mentioned a possible scenario – a nightmare, in his view, for Greece, considering the possible future destabilization of the Egyptian state, due to various internal problems and terrorism. In this case, the flows that Greece will have to face will be enormous, due to the country’s geographical proximity to Egypt,

Mr Christos Poulianitis, Lieutenant General in the 1st Branch (Operations) of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (ΓΕΕΘΑ).

In his speech he mentioned that even before the problem escalated, the Armed Forces were assisting other state agencies, in line with state guidelines. Institutional involvement began in February 2016, with Law 4368/16. The Contribution consists of the Directorate (not Administration) and coordination in cooperation with the Asylum Service and the First Reception Service of actions to address effectively the issues arising from refugee and migration flows, exclusively with regard to transport, accommodation, food and health care.

In a question about NATO’s involvement, Mr Poulianitis replied that the action plan was drawn up in line with Greek proposals, despite Turkey’s reactions and it  includes border surveillance, early detection of illegal migrants and people at risk and full respect to sovereign rights (Greece and Turkey).

In his speech, Mr. Andreas Iliopoulos, Lieutenant General, Director of the Department of Reception and Identification of the Ministry of Migration, stressed that local communities should they are willing to help with tackling the migration issue. He praised the difficulty of the project, as conditions change daily and data cannot be safely stabilized. Flexibility, immediate response and efficiency in changing conditions are also necessary. First Reception and Identification Centers provide health and pharmaceutical support regardless of whether they are refugees or immigrants and pay particular attention to vulnerable groups. As for the operation of the centers, he claimed that they lacked the necessary staff. However, the staff contributed to the rapid recovery of the damage (estimated at 43,000 euros) caused by minors (migration and refugee population) on 19 November 2017. He finally mentioned that “winter is coming and prayers are not enough”. In the unusual cold, people sleep in tents and light fires to warm themselves and warm their babies.

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