The Ministry of Justice and Public Order of the Republic of Cyprus has ordered ten (10) new Fast Patrol Vessels from Finnish Kewatec.
A memorandum of cooperation aiming to support and provide the know-how so as to strengthen the forced and voluntary returns of irregular immigrants, as well as their reintegration and resettlement actions in the countries of transit or origin, was signed between Athens and Frontex.
On the Greek side, the memorandum was signed by the Minister of Citizen Protection, Takis Theodorikakos, and the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis. The European organization was represented by Frontex executive director, Hans Leitens.
According to the Ministry of Citizen Protection, this is an action plan for the protection of the security of the EU borders as well as the protection and safety of third-country nationals who tried to illegally cross the external borders of the EU.
It is noted that, in the context of more effective immigration management, this plan includes a series of joint actions between the competent Greek authorities and Frontex with the aim of further cooperation, especially in the crucial area of returns.
In the context of signing the memorandum, the Minister of Citizen Protection, Takis Theodorikakos, stated that the government has decided and is implementing the extension of the fence along the entire length of the Greek-Turkish border. Furthermore, he emphasized that in the next few days, the relevant contract will be signed to speed up the construction of the next 35 km project, implementing the plan “AKRITAS”, which includes the extension of the fence along the entire length of the river Evros, the strengthening of the forces and the upgrading of the electronic – technical means that accompany it.
Regarding the cooperation with FRONTEX, Mr. Theodorikakos pointed out that they signed the memorandum of cooperation, which also includes the implementation of an action plan, regarding deportations, both voluntary and mandatory.
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For his part, the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, emphasized, among others, that the government of New Democracy has succeeded in the last 3.5 years first to reduce flows, to improve the working and living conditions for staff and asylum seekers and to reduce the impact of the crisis on local communities.
As of early 2020, immediately after the establishment of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, the Department of Returns and Recalls was established, which took over the entire procedural part of voluntary returns with significant results. It is worth-mentioning that in 2021 the Ministry proceeded with 1,000 voluntary returns and 2,737 carried out in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration.
This total of 3,737 rose to 4,462 last year, showing the coordinated effort of all the competent bodies so that the asylum requests that are rejected are turned into returns and deportations, Mr. Mitarakis continued.
Then, he recalled that with Bill 4825, which was passed in September 2021, the deportation and return procedures became stricter and the irregularities of the past were eliminated, from which citizens of third countries mainly benefited in order to prolong their stay in the country.
Finally, the Minister of Immigration and Asylum also mentioned that at the recent European conference on border management organized in Athens, he stressed that the European Union must collectively focus on the issue of returns. A low number of returns of those not entitled to protection undermines the asylum system itself, let alone its credibility.
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