Türkiye key for Greece, EU to deal with profound problem of irregular migration: Greek migration minister

Greece
Mon, 23 Oct 2023 8:25 GMT
‘We are trying to find ways and a win-win formula that can be beneficial for all parties concerned’ on irregular migration, Dimitris Keridis tells Anadolu.
Türkiye key for Greece, EU to deal with profound problem of irregular migration: Greek migration minister

Türkiye is a key country for Greece and the EU by large to deal with the profound problem of irregular migration to Europe, Greece’s migration and asylum minister told Anadolu.

Concerning his Oct. 23 upcoming visit to the Turkish capital of Ankara to Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, Dimitris Keridis said the trip comes amid ongoing rapprochement between Greece and Türkiye, and significantly increasing flows of irregular migration to Europe.

He noted his cordial relationship with Yerlikaya.

“Personal relations always help. But our job is something bigger than personal relations here. It is how to serve our two peoples and peace and stability in the region,” he said.

“After a long period, it seems now that there is a lot of convergences (between Greece and Türkiye), he said.

Improvement in relations is also reflected in the improving cooperation between the two countries’ competent authorities against irregular migration, said Keridis.

Asked whether the rest of the EU, particularly the Western and Northern European countries share Greece’s perspective on the need for better cooperation with Türkiye on that issue, he said: “The truth of the matter is Turkey has been bearing a big burden in that regard, with the Syrian refugees and others. And Europe is here to help with the support of Greece provided that we have the cooperation.”

Keridis drew attention to irregular migration as a crucial problem not only for Greece, Türkiye, the Balkans, or southern European countries, but for all of Europe.

It threatens the stability, security and democracy in Europe, he said, noting that governments are facing increasing pressure from their constituents to deal with the issue.

Against that background, according to Keridis, the conditions dictate a more extensive cooperation between Türkiye and the EU, and Greece promotes that line of argument within the union.

“Türkiye is a very important country when it comes to migration and managing migration. It is a key country. We understand that Türkiye has its own needs. We are trying to find ways and a win-win formula that can be beneficial for all parties concerned,” he said.

“There are some concrete ideas that will be discussed on the way to the summit of Thessaloniki between Türkiye and Greece in one and half months time when Turkish leader (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and Greek leader (Kyriakois) Mitsotakis will be able to announce a series of agreements in many fronts,” he said.

Regarding a related question on the Turkish public’s increased frustration with the growing rate of visa rejection by European countries and its effect on the worsening image of the EU, Keridis said Greece has always supported the visa-free entry of Turkish citizens to the EU.

But he added that most Western and northern EU countries oppose it by claiming the number of Turkish nationals who applied for asylum increased in recent years.

When reminded that Türkiye is the only EU candidate country that was not given visa-free entry to the Schengen zone, which is being enjoyed by Western Balkan countries, Moldova and Georgia, among others, Keridis said that Türkiye is too big to compare to other cases.

But he maintained that the EU is working on plans that can bring visa facilitation in the shorter term and visa-free entry in the future if the required conditions are satisfied by Türkiye.

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