There is a huge amount that Britain can learn from the Greek government’s approach to combatting illegal immigration, U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said.
Speaking to Sky News during a visit to the Greek island of Samos on Sunday, Britain’s interior minister praised the socially conservative government led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for its efforts in drastically reducing the number of illegal crossings from across the Aegean Sea, a narrow waterway between Greece and Turkey.
“They’ve achieved some considerable success over recent years, cutting the number of illegal arrivals from approximately a million in 2015, down by over 95 percent this year,” Braverman said.
She stated that the U.K. would do well to take note of the measures adopted by the Greek administration.
“There is a huge amount to learn from the Greek authorities and the Greek government in terms of the approach that they’ve taken towards illegal migration.
“What we can see from the Greek approach is that deterrence works by having highly secure borders and by increasing the robustness of their defenses in relation to this issue,” she added.
Greece is on a collision course with Brussels for the so-called robust measures adopted by Athens to deter migrants from crossing the Aegean, with many accusing the Greek government of implementing pushback by the Hellenic Coast Guard against illegal migrants, a move prohibited by the U.N. Geneva Convention.
Athens denied using these tactics after a New York Times investigation in May published video footage of such practices seemingly in action, prompting EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson to write to the Greek governments demanding a full and independent investigation into the matter.
“They kidnap migrants, stealing their phones and any kind of evidence, and they take them back out to sea, abandoning them in emergency life rafts,” claimed sea rescue expert Giannis Skenderoglou, who worked with the coastguard and EU border agency Frontex on the Greek island of Lesbos, in an interview with the Euractiv news outlet.
Braverman fell short of implying that Britain should copy the Greek approach, but the Conservative government in Britain remains under heavy scrutiny for repeatedly failing to control the ongoing migrant crisis on England’s southern border.
Several measures have been thwarted in the courts, including attempts to remove illegal newcomers from U.K. territory and relocate them to Rwanda for processing. The Conservative government attempted to codify this policy through the Illegal Migration Act which, is currently being scrutinized by the U.K. Supreme Court as to its legality.
Despite a promise by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “stop the boats” upon his appointment to high office by the Conservative parliamentary party, around 26,700 illegal crossings have been detected via the English Channel so far this year, and U.K. taxpayers continue to pay around £6 million per day to accommodate new arrivals in hotels across the country.