Skip to main content

NEWS

26. 4. 2017

Slovenia assures further support to Greece in facing migratory pressures

Today, 26 April 2017, State Secretary Boštjan Šefic concluded a two-day official visit to Athens, Greece. During his visit, he met with the Greek Minister of Immigration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas. He also had a meeting with the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece Philippe Leclerc and the Head of Operations in International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Greece Besim Ajeti and visited the reception centre in Schisto, which was established in 2016.

State Secretary and Greek Minister of Immigration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas

Meeting with Head of IOM in Greece Besim Ajeti

Meeting with Representative of UNHCR in Greece Philippe Leclerc

During their meeting, the State Secretary and the Greek Minister of Immigration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas both agreed that cooperation between the two countries was good and expressed their belief that the meeting was going to contribute to strengthened cooperation between the ministries of both countries in the future. Greece, which is the starting point for migration routes to the EU, has been under great migratory pressure for several years now. This is why they focused particularly on the European asylum system, discussing possible solutions to ensure effective migration management.

 

According to State Secretary Šefic, it is of key importance to provide adequate control of the external borders, which is the responsibility of the countries at the border. The EU and other member states, for their part, should make all possible efforts to assist these countries as no one is able to face the challenges on their own. All EU member states must therefore strengthen their support to Greece, which also means that all the member states should take part in the relocation project. »The Republic of Slovenia is actively involved in the project and is fulfilling its relocation commitment,« State Secretary Šefic said. One third of the quota has already been relocated to Slovenia, placing us in the top half among the EU member states. Slovenia is determined to see the project through to the end and thus fulfil its commitment. »This is not only important from the aspect of assisting the affected countries, but also from the aspect of supporting the system that has been established,« Šefic said. Both agreed that Turkey was an important partner in dealing with the migration crisis. »If we wish to preserve a long-term, sustainable management of migration from the east, it is imperative that we keep the EU – Turkey agreement in force.« They also discussed cooperation within the existing partnership frameworks with five African countries, which is unfortunately not progressing as expected. They were in agreement that efforts should be intensified in the field of return, that political initiatives should be expanded and that more efforts should be made to boost political cooperation with the partner countries. Some Asian countries which are the countries of origin for most migrants coming to the EU, e.g. Afghanistan and Pakistan, need to be included in this framework as soon as possible.


Meetings with the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) in Greece Philippe Leclerc and the Head of Operations in International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Greece Besim Ajeti were devoted to exchanging experience in field work and discussing the key challenges they face. They also discussed the readiness of Greece and all stakeholders involved in migration flow management in case of a deterioration of the situation that would occur if Turkey decided to withdraw from the agreement with the EU. They all assessed that the situation was considerably better compared to the previous years, the Greek authorities having established, with considerable assistance by the European Commission, EU agencies, international organisations such as IOM and UNHCR, and EU member states, a system of processing and receiving migrants on the islands and on the continent and created contingency plans for various scenarios. That being said, a significant increase in arrivals would require a much greater involvement of the member states in providing support in personnel and relocations. They also considered how Slovenia could additionally assist both organisations in field work activities and how the procedures related to the relocation project could be enhanced.

 

State Secretary Boštjan Šefic rounded up his two-day visit with a visit to the reception centre in Schisto. This is one of the largest centres in Greece, established in 2016, which can house up to 2000 international protection applicants.