By Penelope Galliou

The baton of his contacts in New York, which were characterized by intense diplomatic, geopolitical and economic interest, is taken up by the prime minister upon his return to Athens, continuing the positive momentum captured during his meeting with Tayyip Erdogan, setting a new foundation the cooperation of the two countries.

High on the agenda of Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ priorities is immigration, a topic that the two leaders discussed at length in “Turkey’s House” and given that from July until today the flow of illegal immigrants to our country has increased significantly and come, according to mainly from neighboring Turkey, while overall in 2022 Greece had a doubling of illegal arrivals compared to 2021 and a further increase in 2023.

A discussion that opened the way for further moves to better manage and solve the problem of illegal immigration and which seems to have been scheduled for December 7th, when the Supreme Council of Cooperation between Greece and Turkey will meet in Thessaloniki and a bilateral agreement is expected to be signed between Athens and Ankara under the auspices of the EU.

“We are talking about a Euro-Turkish agreement at the initiative of Greece”, in the wake of the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting in New York, emphasized the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Dimitris Kairidis, speaking on state television, stressing the need not to lose the memorandum and the momentum created by Greek-Turkish contacts in New York.

“The initiative belongs to Greece, because we have the most direct interest. Obviously, we are at the forefront of immigration pressure,” said Mr. Kairides, while also focusing on the financial aspect of such an agreement for Turkey, noting that “money is obviously something that is of great interest to the Turks, especially after the earthquakes, but also the the fact that four million refugees and immigrants are pouring in. In the midst of an economic crisis, Turkish public opinion has actually turned against immigrants because they take the jobs,” he explained.

In this light, Greece is taking the initiative to extend the EU-Turkey agreement on migration, while at the same time it is in an open line with Ankara as well as with the EU. To reinforce the above before the return trip of the prime ministerial mission to Greece began, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Gerapetritis met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, with European Commissioner Ylva Johansson in order to inform her of the results of Kyriakos’ discussions Mitsotakis and Tayyip Erdogan and the immigration-refugee issue was at the center of the meeting.

The target, although the information has not yet been officially confirmed, is the E.U. to increase funds for Ankara to push the Turkish authorities to more effectively control the migration flows that start from their territories to cross the European borders.