Speeches in English

On immigration

Παρασκευή, 22 Νοέ 2013

Council of Europe, Standing Committee, Vienna

»On Immigration»

Dear colleagues

Discussing the latest tragic events in Lampedouza and elsewhere we are again faced with the overall issue of immigration: Greece for example, following the collapse of the Eastern Bloc regimes, was flooded with one million immigrants in a population of ten! That would be four million for Spain, six million for Italy and more than eight million for Germany!

And now let me ask you: would any of these larger countries be able to sustain such an intolerable social and economic pressure in the course of just one generation, even with an economic situation much better than that of Greece?

Legal impediments, such as the ‘Doublin II’ arrangements, lock up these incoming immigrants to the first EU country they enter! Greece, therefore, and not only, has become a vast camp of desperate souls who never chose her as their final destination in the first place. Then our Partners point a finger at Greece for not extending the quality of help these dozens of thousands of desperate people deserve! But, inside my country, due to the acute economic crisis, nearly 30% of GDP was lost in just four years! Almost one-and-a-half million people are unemployed. Whole families face the spectre of starvation; the extreme Right has risen to unprecedented political heights.

Try to walk in our shoes, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Southern countries, therefore, do well to try and coordinate and present our partners with some common proposals for facing this intolerable situation. If not adequately faced new waves, from Syria, Egypt and so on, will flood us. Let us be clear: we need a new and reasonable EU policy for this grave matter.

If this will not be forthcoming the Southern countries will either stop complying or will just be unable to do so!

Here are some proposals we need to consider:

– Greece believes that the total of migratory flows must be distributed to all EU member-states on the basis of objective criteria, their GDP, population, etc. And that the above distribution should be compulsory in the case of massive inflows.

In two words: WE NEED TO LIAISE THE PRINCIPLE OF RESPONSIBILITY WITH THAT OF SOLIDARITY; and solidarity inside the EU simply means equal distribution of responsibilities.

– In conjunction with my previous point, Greece estimates that the Directive 2001/55 on temporary protection must be amended so that the relocation of immigrants in other EU member-states takes a compulsory, not a temporary character.

– ‘Doublin II’ must, as I said, be amended to become more fair for the countries forming the external borders of the Union.

– A European Emergency Mechanism for dealing with sudden and massive inflows and for the distribution of incomers in the various EU states must be created.

– The recent tragic event in Lampedouza must not take away our attention from the crucial issue of guarding the EU’s Eastern frontier. We need therefore to continue with the financing of existing programmes in parallel with the creation or strengthening of new infrastructures. In this framework we consider imperative that the Hellenic Action Plan for Asylum and Immigration is adequately financed.

Dear colleagues, thank you for your attention

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