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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-19

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM meets with UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • [02] ND sets up Family Budget Observatory

  • [01] PM meets with UN High Commissioner for Refugees

    The establishment of an independently operating Asylum Agency and the creation of a new framework of operation for migrant reception centers were announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou in statements he made at the Maximos Mansion, after his meeting Tuesday with visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

    As the premier said, the other five government priorities are border protection, adoption of measures against illegal migration, appropriate management of the political refugees issue in compliance with international obligations (to ensure the protection of those who are really persecuted or faced with serious risks), cooperation with the UN High Commission, the EU and the neighboring states and the smooth integration of legal migrants (the second generation in particular) into the social structures.

    The prime minister stated that the intention of the government is to reform the asylum system to be in full compliance with the Geneva Convention and the European legislation.

    "We are witnessing a huge increase of the migration flow, illegal migration and refugees, associated with the multiplication of economic crises, the alteration of global demographics, regional conflicts that unfortunately intensify and climate change," the prime minister stated.

    He pointed out that "it is certain that the potential of Europe and Greece to receive and integrate is limited."

    The new framework of operation for the migrant reception centers was associated by the prime minister with the implementation of a border protection policy to avert the inflow of illegal migrants. He added that the goal is to create special primary reception centers in the most affected regions.

    The prime minister stated that he agreed with Guterres that the cooperation of countries that border with the EU is imperative to ensure that those who are really in need will be protected while reducing the burden faced by EU member states. The issue of Turkey was also discussed within this context, the prime minister stated.

    PM Papandreou stressed that the priorities announced will consolidate the sense of security in society and, at the same time, protect fundamental human rights.

    He also stated that they discussed the recent developments in the EU and the adoption of the Stockholm programme that stresses the need for real solidarity between the EU states as regards the asylum issue. He pointed out that the immediate operation of the European Asylum Agency is imperative as it will help the member states deal with the continuous migration flow and the large number of asylum seekers.

    Papandreou stated that he reminded the UN High Commissioner that the implementation of Dublin II Regulation resulted to a disproportional burden for Greece and underlined the need to amend the criteria and create a mandatory solidarity mechanism between the member states.

    He also stated that he briefed Guterres on the government initiatives that will be voted into law in a few weeks giving hope to the migrants that live legally in Greece for many years, and particularly their children, who will be acquiring the Greek nationality at birth.

    "The specific provisions also include a special reference to those with recognized refugee status," the prime minister stated, adding that "legal migrants and recognized refugees will have the right to vote in local administration elections."

    The prime minister concluded that Greece is counting on the UN High Commission assistance to face those issues.

    On his part, Antonio Guterres expressed full support to the government initiatives, adding that "migration is a human rights issue as well as a national security protection issue."

    He stated that having people in an uncertain situation is not right adding, however, that only those who are properly identified and really need protection should be allowed to stay ensuring that human rights and national security will be respected.

    Guterres stated that the measures announced by the government are positive and acknowledged that Greece is making a disproportionate effort offering notable service to the European Union. He invited the EU to fully support Greece and share the burden, adding that the UN High Commission will express its full support to Greece in Brussels, underlining that European policy cohesion is necessary to face the problem.

    CAPTION: Prime Minister George Papandreou (L) with visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres (R) at the Maximos Mansion on Tuesday. (Photo ANA-MPA)

    [02] ND sets up Family Budget Observatory

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras has decided to create a Family Budget Observatory within the party, coordinated by Kavala MP Nikos Panagiotopoulos with former MP Yiannis Bougas as his deputy.

    A party announcement said the decision reflected a desire for organised and comprehensive political action by ND to support Greek families struggling during the current economic crisis.

    The party noted the great importance of the family as an institution for Greek society and said that this was now in serious trouble, especially those families with smaller financial means, as a result of the economic crisis and its repercussions.

    "The ever-worsening problems of unemployment, high prices and lower quality of life, as well as a series of measures taken by the government that reduce citizens' incomes, make it necessary to set up this Committee. The government is making a mistake by not taking into account and not monitoring the repercussions of its decision on the quality of citizens' daily lives," it said.

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