“The special role of Greece” 26/11/2018

In the framework of the training seminar “Management of the EU’s external borders in the Eastern Mediterranean”, the 5th and final session titled “The special role of Greece ” was successfully held on November 26th, 2018. The seminar was hosted at the building of the Delegation of the European Commission. Coordinator was Professor Yannis Valinakis President of the Jean Monnet European Center of Excellence.

The first speaker Mr. Panagiotis Tsakonas, Professor at the University of the Aegean, focused on the EU’s institutional initiatives during the crisis of 2015 and the “special” sessions which were held in order to manage the issue. He then referred to the resettlement mechanism, highlighting resettlement figures obtained before and after the EU-Turkey Agreement. In conclusion, he stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle migration through a ‘willing alliance’, the implementation of the Common European Asylum System, possible migration partnerships with countries of origin and transit and, finally, extra-territorial management for safe travels.

Lieutenant General Christos Poulianitis (Hellenic National Defence General Staff/ 1st Branch of Operations) presented the action of the armed forces and all three sectors to manage the migration / refugee flows from 2015 onwards. The speaker in his presentation dealt with the creation and management of reception and hosting structures for migrants / refugees, as well as operational actions, within the framework of NATO’s Aegean mission of surveillance of the external borders in relation to migration. He presented detailed statistics on specific actions in this context and clarified the parameters of the contribution of the armed forces to the overall Greek national policy on migration.

The next speaker, Lieutenant General of the Hellenic Police Ms. Zacharoula Tsirigoti made an extensive reference to the immediate and long-term measures having been used in order to deal with the migration crisis. Ms Tsirigoti analyzed the importance of the interoperability of European Information Systems (EES) through the use of various systems and the positive results of debriefing in the fight against illegal immigration and organized crime. In conclusion, she highlighted the holistic approach of cooperation at national, European and international level to address security challenges.

Final speaker Mr Georgios Christianos, Deputy Chief of the Hellenic coastguard, referred to the Hellenic Coastguard’s strategies for more effective maritime border surveillance, focusing on the eastern Aegean islands as the ones being directly affected. In addition, he focused on international business partnerships and the Poseidon operation highlighting the challenges, risks and operational parameters that need to be considered in emergency rescue operations. Finally, he stressed the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation between the Navy and Coastguard. as well as international co-operation with Turkey and NATO.

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