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Press Release - Statement by the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi

N. Mitarachi: "Turkey is a not a country at war, and it has an obligation under the 2016 EU-Turkey joint statement to prevent illegal departures of migrants and accept return of those individuals that are deemed not to be entitled to international protection. In the absence of action by the Turkish authorities, the Hellenic Coastguard continues to save the lives of thousands of men, women and children at sea every year."

Responding to the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi, stated:

“We were surprised by this statement and always seek to positively engage with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Greece protects the external borders of the European Union, in total compliance with international law and in full respect of the charter of fundamental rights. Our national independent authorities investigate all claims of alleged breaches, and we proactively call for evidence to be provided. It is deeply troubling that Turkish-driven propaganda and fake news about illegal migration is so often mistakenly taken as fact.

Turkey is a not a country at war, and it has an obligation under the 2016 EU-Turkey joint statement to prevent illegal departures of migrants and accept return of those individuals that are deemed not to be entitled to international protection. In the absence of action by the Turkish authorities, the Hellenic Coastguard continues to save the lives of thousands of men, women and children at sea every year. Between 2015 and 2021 it came to the rescue of more than 230,000 third country nationals who were in danger at sea.

In the last seven years alone, Greece has provided safe harbor for over one million people - to give that context, that is over ten per cent of our entire population. Greece is not against legal migration; we are against the traffickers and all those who exploit human suffering either for profit or for political purposes.

Ultimately, Greece cannot solve the migration crisis alone, we still urgently need more tangible support and greater commitment at an EU level and from member states, particularly with relocations. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the matters the High Commissioner has raised and to talk with him about the constructive role the international community can play in protecting the lives of refugees.”

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