The criticism of the Hellenizations that is made in relation to the recent amendment for immigrants is completely unfounded and is done out of spite, the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Dimitris Kairidis, states in an interview with APE-MPEwho adds that this criticism aims to stimulate the reflexes of a public opinion that has justifiably been injured by the mismanagement of immigration in previous years.

At the same time, Mr. Kairides explains what are the needs served by this regulation from the government. It even clarifies that it is about one time setting which is to be closed permanently.

The Minister of Immigration and Asylum also states that he is satisfied with the political agreement which was reached in the previous days on migration after all-night negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, which in fact characterizes a “Greek success”.

It also talks about cooperation which has started with Turkeywhich it characterizes precious to tackle illegal migrant smuggling. Finally, he also refers to the benefits from the adoption of the measure of providing seven-day tourist visas to Turkish citizens for 10 islands of the eastern Aegean, which was done after close cooperation with the European Commission.

The following is the full text of the interview of the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Dimitris Kairides

APE-MPE question: Are you satisfied with the Agreement reached at the European level on immigration?

Dimitris Kairides: Obviously. It is a European as well as a Greek success. We succeeded, for the first time, in balancing the responsibility of the first receiving states with the obligatory solidarity of all. And we preserved a number of important clauses, about not overloading the islands, the crisis management mechanism, the immigration tooling, based on the experience of the last decade. It is a positive step in the right direction but it is not the final destination.

Question: The immigration amendment has caused mixed reactions. Let’s clarify what it includes, what it doesn’t include and who it’s for.

Dimitris Kairides: The amendment gives access to legal work to non-legally resident foreigners in Greece for three years as long as they are employed. The amendment is neither legalization nor Greekization, since does not grant the right of permanent residence, of family reunification nor, of course, Greek citizenship. It is a limited and carefully designed measure on the basis of the existing permanent mechanism of 7 years and based on the 6-8,000 beneficiaries of this every year it is estimated that it concerns about 30,000 immigrants.

Question: What do you answer to those who accuse the government of Hellenization?

Dimitris Kairides: The criticism of Hellenization is completely unfounded, as I explained above. And, often, it is done on the sly to stimulate the reflexes of a public opinion that has been justifiably traumatized by the mismanagement, to put it elegantly, of immigration in the period 2015-2019.

Question: What were the needs that led to the adoption of this arrangement?

Dimitris Kairides: The pressure on the labor market, the need to strengthen public security, the fight against unfair competition that black, undeclared work causes, the increase in public revenues and insurance contributions. The reasons are many and important. The most important counter-argument is that of the possible creation of a “magnet” of attraction and new illegal arrivals. The answer is categorically no. The design of our intervention precludes this. The arrangement concerns arrivals before 2021. And the real magnet is Germany, not Greece.

Question: Any chance it will be expanded or reopened by the government in the future?

Dimitris Kairides: No. The adjustment is one-time. A settlement window opens which then closes in 2024. The 7-year standing mechanism and all other provisions of the immigration code continue to apply in full. The country puts order to the lawlessness and proceeds to enter into bilateral labor mobility agreements to strengthen legal, legal immigration with terms and rules, according to the needs of the economy.

Question: At the same time, data shows that migration flows to Greece have decreased, what is the reason for this and how much of a role has the dialogue that has started again with Turkey played?

Dimitris Kairides: Consultation with Turkey helps. There is indeed a drop in flows, but the fight continues, especially at sea. The burdensome international conditions do not permit any complacency. Cooperation with neighboring countries, such as Turkey in particular, is valuable to tackle illegal migrant smuggling. We pursue it for the benefit of the national effort. And today, after a long time, we find a response.

Question: In the past few days, you presented the migration policy of the Greek government to the 27 ambassadors of the member states of the European Union in Athens. What are its main lines?

Dimitris Kairides: Yes to the legal, no to the illegal. As the programmatic statements of the government foresee, our policy is based on two pillars: we stand firmly against illegal trafficking and we insist on strict guarding of borders, with respect for human life and the law, but, at the same time, we recognize the need for the so-called legal immigration, with terms and rules, according to our own needs and choices. The two go together. In order for the second to be accepted, the feeling of security must be consolidated in Greek society. And, to achieve the former, we will need to create legitimate alternatives.

Question: You recently moved forward with the adoption of the measure of providing seven-day tourist visas to Turkish citizens for 10 islands in the eastern Aegean. What does this serve?

Dimitris Kairides: The measure of facilitating entry visas for Turkish citizens has multiple benefits. Firstly, it helps financially our islands which have taken a heavy burden of the immigration pressure towards Europe. That is why he was greeted with enthusiasm by the local communities. Secondly, it helps to bring the two peoples, Greeks and Turks, closer, and proves that Greece wants to help the Turks’ access to Europe, provided that Turkey behaves according to the principles of good neighborliness. However, I would like to take this opportunity to correct a misunderstanding. The specific measure was not a product of negotiations with Turkey but with the European Commission, since it concerns the Schengen zone. And it could not be done without our close cooperation with Europe. Greece now has the green light. Implementation, partial or complete, is at our discretion, whenever and for as long as we wish.