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Turkey as a main country in facing illegal migration

Turkey holds the first place for Greece and the EU in solving illegal migration to Europe, Greece’s migration and asylum minister told Anadolu Agency.

Visiting Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya in the Turkish capital Ankara on 23 October, Dimitris Keridis said the trip comes against the backdrop of the ongoing rapprochement between Greece and Turkey and the significant increase in illegal migration flows to Europe.

Personal relations always help. But our job is something bigger than personal relations here. It is how to serve our two peoples and peace and stability in the region, he said about his cordial relationship with Yerlikaya.

Asked whether the rest of the EU, especially the Western and Northern European countries, share Greece’s view on the need to improve co-operation with Turkey on this issue, he said:

The truth of the matter is Turkey has been bearing a big burden in that regard, with the Syrian refugees and others. And Europe is here to help with the support of Greece provided that we have the cooperation.

Keridis pointed out that irregular migration is a major problem not only for Greece, Turkey, the Balkans or Southern Europe, but for the whole of Europe. It threatens stability, security and democracy in Europe.

Against this background, according to Keridis, conditions dictate greater co-operation between Turkey and the EU, and Greece is pushing this line within the union. Thus, he says the following: “Türkiye is a very important country when it comes to migration and managing migration. It is a key country. We understand that Türkiye has its own needs. We are trying to find ways and a win-win formula that can be beneficial for all parties concerned.”

Growing dissatisfaction of the Turkish public over the increasing number of visa refusals by European countries and their impact on the deteriorating image of the EU, Keridis said that Greece has always been in favour of visa-free entry of Turkish citizens to the EU.

Nevertheless, Turkey is the only EU candidate country that has not been granted visa-free entry to the Schengen zone, which is enjoyed by the Western Balkan countries, Moldova and Georgia, among others, Keridis said Turkey is too big to be compared to other countries.

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