New Greek government wants to reinforce borders

Athens (AFP) –


The new Greek government underscored Monday its intention to reinforce the country's borders, as a visiting EU official noted an uptick in the number of refugees crossing from Turkey.

"Our plan involves better use of European Frontex (border) forces, reinforced coast guard patrols with upgraded equipment, and better, more transparent management of European funds," a government statement said.

The statement, coinciding with a visit by European Union migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, also said the new government had set improved living conditions for refugees and migrants as a priority, along with a faster procedure for asylum seekers.

Conservative Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took office on July 8 after focusing on Greece's debt crisis, and is now laying out his approaches to other issues, notably including immigration.

Avramopoulos said Greece "is not alone in dealing with the migration problem.

"Greece is an important factor of stability and we must prepare ourselves better for the future because we do not know what lies in store for us," the EU commissioner added.

He noted that the flow of migrants to Greek islands from Turkey had increased in recent months, exceeding 12,000 since the start of the year according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

On Friday, the new government's junior migration minister, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, paid a visit to Samos, a landing point for many refugees, and said that "the situation is unbearable.

"We must distinguish between those who are refugees and can potentially obtain asylum and those who have entered the country illegally. The former have the right to stay, the others must leave the country as quickly as possible," he said.