The scenario over Greece’s exit from the Schengen zone “was triggered by the declarations of xenophobic prime ministers,” outlined the Alternate Minister of Migration Policy of Greece, Giannis Mouzalas. “Nonetheless, these views were also transmitted to our country as Europe’s views”, he added.
Talking on Greek TV channel “Mega”, Mouzalas clarified that this issue was not even addressed during the council of Ministers of Interior in Brussels, and added that “very serious matters were tabled, such as the guard and reduction of immigration flows, also regarding terrorism, this fear that has justly overcome all of us after the Paris attack.”
Mouzalas argued that “isolation and national solutions such as building fences do not help”. “It is a European problem,” he said.
Regarding Frontex, he said that Greece has asked for 1,600 refugees, while at the same time he suggested that they should come to FYROM, in order to perform a fingerprint check to “those that have not been submitted to such a check yet”.
As the minister stated, the text submitted by Frontex also included that “we (the Greek state) shall also reach out to observers from FYROM, which is referred to as Republic of Macedonia, to take part in the operation.” “How can we, as a country, accept such a thing? Observers from FYROM at the Greek border? This was an arbitrary move by Frontex. We sent a letter to Mr. Abramopoulos to put things back to order,” he explained.
The Alternate minister talked of injustice towards Greece, regarding the accusation that two of the attackers in Paris entered Europe through the island of Leros. “It was proven that two out of the eight terrorists entered Leros in October, which was a very taxing period. Both of them were identified in accordance with the EU standards. And this is not recognized as a success,” he stressed out.
However, he admitted that “we are to blame in many issues” regarding the handling of refugees’ flows, and “and we are trying to recover from these flaws”. “We are not good at handling the underage refugees. Too many underage refugees come and we are not suitably equipped,” he continued.
With regard to the situation in the village of Idomeni (at the Greek border with FYROM), he repeated that a solution will come. “We are making a great effort to prevent any fighting. However, a government must always implement the law. Perhaps with delicacy or tenderness, but as a state you have to react in the face of a 10-day occupation of the railway”, he said.
Mouzalas was also optimistic over the situation at Idomeni, saying that «it will soon clear out.» Regarding those refugees who want to return, he noted that “those who want to apply for asylum will have the opportunity to do so. But they do not apply for asylum, because they do not want to. Many of them want to return by themselves”.
“We have been in contact with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and there is a programme for voluntary return. In my point of view, these people have no alternative; it is beneficial for them to return back home. It sounds very bad, but I have worked for many years on the other side and I feel bad for what I am saying,” said Mouzalas, and he added that there will also be some “compulsory returns, expulsion”.
Translated by: Chrysanthi Partsanaki
Μετάφραση: Χρυσάνθη Παρτσανάκη