Migration & Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis said that the agreement reached earlier in the week by the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the New Pact on Migration & Asylum was “a Greek success”, in an interview to Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) on Saturday.
The Greek minister also noted that the cooperation that has started with Türkiye on the issue is extremely valuable for effectively dealing with illegal migrant trafficking, and he referred to the benefits from adopting the measure of providing seven-day tourist visas to Turkish citizens for 10 islands of the eastern Aegean, which was implemented after close cooperation with the European Commission.
“We succeeded, for the first time, in balancing the responsibility of first reception EU states with the obligatory solidarity of all EU member countries,” he said, “and we preserved a number of important clauses, about not overloading the islands, the overall crisis management mechanism, and the migration phenomenon’s instrumentalization, all based on the experience of the previous decade.”
The measure of visa facilitation for Turkish citizens has multiple benefits, noted the minister: “It helps our islands financially, those which have taken a heavy burden of migration pressure towards Europe, which is why it was greeted with enthusiasm by the local communities, and secondly it helps to bring the two peoples, Greeks and Turks, closer, proving that Greece does want to help with Türkiye’s European accession, provided that Türkiye behaves according to the principles of good neighborliness.”
Commenting on the ministry’s legislation amendment that was approved earlier in the week in parliament, and which foresees granting three-year stay-and-work permits to some 30,000 migrants who have entered Greece by illegal means and who still reside in the country, he pointed out that criticism against this clause “only serves to stimulate the reflexes of a public opinion that has been justifiably injured by the mismanagement of migration during 2015-2019.”
This amendment gives access to legal work to non-legally resident foreigners in Greece for three years as long as they are employed, Kairidis explained, “it does not grant the right to permanent residence, family reunification or Greek citizenship (…) and concerns about 30,000 migrants.”