Austria and Greece cooperate against illegal immigration and announce “closer ranks in the joint fight against the trafficking mafia” –

Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner received Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi in Vienna’s Herrengasse for a working meeting. The talks focused on common challenges in the field of migration. The protection of the EU’s external borders and the fight against “international trafficking in human beings” were in the foreground.

Austria relies on “long-standing good cooperation” with Greece, said Interior Minister Karner. Karner underlined a common goal between Greece and Austria. According to Karner, “Europe must be protected from the trafficking mafia” and “Greece is an important partner in this regard, especially in the area of ​​protecting the EU’s external borders”.

In joint statements after their meeting, the two ministers underlined the need to strengthen cooperation on migration management. At the same time, they stressed the need to continue the Vilnius Initiative, in which Greece, Austria, Lithuania and Poland had participated and which concerned the strengthening of the external borders of the European Union. The European Conference should take place in our country during the first seven months of 2023, with the central theme this time being the limitation of migratory flows towards the European Union.

The interlocutors agree that Greece is of particular importance in the management of European external borders due to its geographical location. Mitarachi not only stressed the need for the construction of a “physical border guard” at Greece’s external border, but also called for compliance with the EU’s 2016 refugee deal with Turkey. “It’s about both preventing illegal border crossings of migrants and respecting the readmission agreement,” Mitarakis said. “Yes to the asylum that needs it, no to illegal trafficking”, declared the Greek Minister for Migration.

The Greek Minister for Migration underlined that the fight against cross-border smuggling can only be won in alliance at European level and thanked Austria for its initiatives in this regard. It is necessary to fight cross-border smuggling crime also across borders and to protect Europe “from international smuggling gangs”, Karner stressed.

The “action sharp as action fair”, which has been running since May, is a key Austrian contribution in this regard, he said. In addition, up to 70 police officers are deployed in Hungary at the EU’s external border as part of the fight against smuggling. On the Serbian-Macedonian border in the north, the authorities have to be supported mainly by drones.

Ministers agreed to hold a European conference in Greece in 2023 following the Vilnius initiative.

The European Union must fulfill its obligations

Greece is one of the main countries of arrival of unregulated immigration to the European Union. EU immigration ministers agreed in June on a voluntary mechanism to redistribute refugees from their place of arrival to other member states.

Greece has accused EU member states of refusing to take in refugees. According to DerStandard, Greek Migration Minister Mitarachi was “disappointed” by the lack of support for the redistribution of refugees in the European Union.

Also concluding during the press conference in Vienna, Mr. Mitarachi stressed the importance of finding solutions that allow solidarity between all countries while ensuring a fair distribution of the burden of immigration.

Mr Mitarachi, speaking at a press conference in Athens, called for a “symmetry” between the “responsibility of the countries of arrival and the “solidarity that all EU countries must show”, According to DerStandard, countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus expect 160,000 people to arrive on their shores via the Mediterranean this year.

Criticism of Turkey

Among other things, Mr. Mitarakis confirmed the practice of smugglers and the routes followed for illegal entry into the Western Balkan countries, as it is a constant policy of circles and in the case of Greece with nationalities from sub-Saharan Africa in Turkey.

Referring to the practice followed by Turkey in recent days, the Minister for Migration and Asylum said that the shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea and the shameful incident in Evros with the 92 naked migrants are increasingly compelling Turkey to make commitments and obligations.

Mr. Mitarakis, in the context of the intense rhetoric followed in recent days, reiterated the commitment to implement the joint statement of the European Union and Turkey of 2016, which Turkey committed to enforce.

Grand Cross of the Order of Austria for Notis Mitarachi

Federal Minister of the Interior of Austria Gerhard Karner, in the presence of Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer, by presidential decree in Vienna, awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Republic of Austria to Greek Minister Notis Mitarachi.

This prize is the highest honor of the Republic of Austria and was awarded to the Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum for his contribution to Greek-Austrian relations and to the management of the immigration crisis.

BMI Austrian Ministry of the Interior

Ministry of Migration and Asylum of the Hellenic Republic

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