Mitsotakis: Europe must protect its interior if we want to have free movement of people

Kyriakos Mitsotakis

"What we did from the start, when I took over the government, was to impose a tough but - I think - fair migration policy," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview to the journalists Paul Ronzheimer and Liana Spyropoulou published on the website of the German newspaper "Bild".

He also reminded them that six months after taking over, his government had to fend off an "organised invasion of illegal migrants into Greece, in other words into European territory." The interview was published on the website on Wednesday.

Among others, the Greek premier emphasised the need for Europe to have a comprehensive migration policy and protect its interior in order to preserve the Schengen Zone with the free movement of people.

Thanks to the border wall and the government's migration policy, he noted, fewer irregular migrants were now entering Europe via Greece, with the numbers into Greece dropping so that they now accounted for less than 10 pct of all illegal entries into Europe, down from 75 pct in 2015.

At the same time, he said, a wall could not solve the problem on its own and an overall migration policy was needed. This must include the handling of secondary flows and also a fair distribution of the burden imposed by those allowed entry as refugees, as well as the handling of returns.

Mitsotakis stressed the last point, saying it was crucial that those not eligible for refugee status be returned to their countries of origin. He said that Europe must protect its interior if it was going to have a Schengen Zone with the free movement of people. A

sked how he hoped to persuade the leaders of France and Germany on this point, Mitsotakis stressed that he had an obligation "to defend our territory and ensure that there will never be a return to a situation where anyone could enter without a trace of respect for the rules of my country."

The Greek premier said that he intended to push the EU for the maximum possible support and, if that proved impossible, that Greece will build a border wall using its own national funds, which would be expensive but "absolutely feasible for a country such as Greece".

Mitsotakis denied that Greece engaged in pushbacks but said that it did prevent illegal entry by sea, while saving thousands of people at risk of drowning. He also pointed out that the fewer people there were at sea, the smaller the chances of people being drowned.

READ MORE: Why the new Cleopatra documentary on Netflix is problematic.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024