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Mitarachi: We need to offer asylum in an orderly way. Today, it is the smugglers who“sell” places in our societies

Joint press conference of the co-organizers at the “2nd European Conference on Border Management” 

The need for the European Union to effectively protect its external borders and offer organized asylum to those in need and not to let the smugglers determine who will enter Europe, was hghlighted by the Minister of Migration  and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi, during the press conference held by the coorganizing countries at the of the 2nd  European Conference on Border Management. 

The press conference was addressed by Mr.Mitarachi, Federal Minister of the Interior of Austria, Mr. Gerhard Karner, the Minister of Interior of Lithuania Mrs. Agnė Bilotaitė and the Minister of Interior of Poland Mr. Bartosz Grodecki

The Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi stressed:

Together with Austria, Lithuania and Poland, we continue our effort to increase awareness and strengthen EU Border Protection. In a series now of conferences, which allow me to call them “the Vilnius Process”. It is -at this point- crucial for Europe to decide, what type of migration policy we want. Accordingly how do we protect the external borders of the European Union.  Clearly we need to offer asylum to people in need of protection, but in an orderly way. Today, unfortunately,  it is the people smugglers that “sell” places in our societies.  Not to those most in need, but to those that pay the fees”. 

For his part, the Austrian Federal Minister for the Interior, Mr. Gerhard Karner, noted: One year ago, we were met one month before the attack of Putin to Ukraine for the first time, so we’re able to see back then that there was a necessity for Europe to be decisive as it is and of course we decided back then to talk about this directive we allowed for people, for young people mainly, women and men from Ukraine to come to us, in order to be able to do what we wanted to, that is help people, we must help our systems and get them better systems that do not work and cannot be helpful for that reason. There are different initiatives, this European Conference on Border Management. I want to thank my colleagues, Bartosz, Notis, Agne, I want to thank them all. Last year, we were able to see that we had more than one million asylum claims within the EU. In 2015 we didn’t have these numbers, we have 10.000 claims just for Austria. It is the first time that we saw so many big numbers.  With this Conferences, we can do a conclusion. There is much debate, there are many initiatives undertaken in order for us to be able in the future to take significant steps.” 

At the same time, Mrs. Agnė Bilotaitė, Minister of Interior of Lithuania, pointed out: “Exactly one year ago today, Russia brutally attacked Ukraine. And it has completely changed the security situation in the region. It has also changed our view on border protection. Lithuania has a border with the aggressor, as well as with its ally Belarus. Now, border protection for us means more than countering illegal migration. In the current geopolitical context, border protection becomes border defense.  The EU Law must keep up with the realities. Delayed decision on the EU side is like a ticking bomb. The hard attack of the Russian Regime is not over and neither is the war against Ukraine . We will continue our efforts to protect the external border of the EU and we must continue helping Ukraine by all means till victory. Because making Ukraine stronger make us all stronger.  

Finally, the Polish Minister of the Interior, Mr. Bartosz Grodecki, said: “It is really important and I would like to underline that this group of people who gather together, started in Brussels, clearly shows how the migration is important right now in the European Union. We have Greece and thank you Notis once again for the close cooperation with us, where representing the Mediterranean states. We have and Agne who represents Baltic States, Gerhard, the central Europe and secondary movement issue and Poland. We found a common approach, we found a common solution. We are trying to forward that message to the European Commission to the member states to find a proper solution how to manage the migration, how to find a holistic approach.” 

In detail, the speech of the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi: 

Thirteen months after our 1st conference in Vilnius,  

the issue of border management has been raised in importance,  

within the European institutions.  

Together with Austria, Lithuania and Poland, 

we continue our effort to increase awareness and 

strengthen EU Border Protection. 

In a series now of conferences, 

which allow me to call them “the Vilnius Process 

It is -at this point- crucial for Europe to decide,  

what type of migration policy we want. 

Accordingly how do we protect the external borders of the European Union.  

Clearly we need to offer asylum to people in need of protection,  

but in an orderly way.  

Today, unfortunately,  

it is the people smugglers that “sell” places in our societies.  

Not to those most in need, but to those that pay the fees.   

Many would agree that we need us to open up legal and safe pathways, 

with rules.  

But we need to stop irregular flows. 

Flows which almost all come to the EU through transit countries.  

And not direct from places of risk of prosecution.  

Our border policy must acknowledge and respond to these challenges. 

Including fences where needed. 

Highlighting that international law 

does not provide for a right to access irregularly to our territory. 

Of course, reducing flows and implementing returns requires 

working closer with countries of origin and countries of transit. 

Implementing our existing readmission and return agreements, 

our arrangements with countries of origin and transit.  

Like the EU/Turkey 2016 Joint Statement.  

Note that since March 2020 Turkey refuses to accept returns.  

Obviously, stemming irregular crossings of the external border means less secondary movement.  

A point that divides us needs to come to a point that unite us,  

the need of protecting our external border from irregular arrivals.  

Thank you. 

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