The Greek government has urged the European Commission to force countries to accept deported migrants by threatening them with the withdrawal of humanitarian aid should they refuse to comply.
In an interview with state television on Tuesday, Greece’s Minister for Asylum and Migration Dimitrios Kairidis criticized the existing agreements between a number of countries of origin for illegal migrants heading to Europe, claiming they had proven to be ineffective.
He called for a more forceful approach from Brussels to help countries struggling to man the EU’s external border and hinted at harsher measures to twist their arms and receive those for whom they are responsible.
“Europe must demand that these countries take back their citizens. Otherwise, there would be sanctions and no financial aid. Europe has the authority to impose its will on this issue,” Kairidis said.
He warned that failure by Brussels to introduce a viable deportation policy would see Europe continue to be a “laughing stock” on the world stage over its inability to defend its borders.
Athens has borne the brunt of the migration crisis enveloping Europe over the past decade, as Greek islands have become overrun by new arrivals, many of whom traveled through Turkey from the Middle East before being transported by boat to Greece.
The issue of illegal migration dominated the Greek election back in June, which saw conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis win a second term as prime minister and the far-right Spartans Party enter the Greek parliament for the first time with 4.68 percent of the vote.
Athens and Brussels had been at loggerheads during Mitsotakis’ first term in office over allegations of Greece conducting pushbacks of migrant boats at its border. The Greek government refuted these claims, insisting its migration policy is “tough but fair.”