Ministers of Migration .and Interior from five of. the European Union countries most affected by Mediterranean .Sea migration – Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta. and Spain – praised the EU’s new migration treaty. but said more resources are needed.
According to Voice of America. ministers from the “Med 5” group. who met in Thessaloniki, Greece on Friday and Saturday. took a tough stance on returning migrants who illegally crossed into .the Union to their home countries. saying that. if Europe does not address. the problem decisively. the more extremist voices will take over.
Greek Minister of Migration. and Asylum Dimitris Kourkoulas, who hosted .the sixth meeting of the “Med 5” group. and European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas .congratulated the Spanish presidency of the European Union on. “doing what is humanly possible” to reach a settlement agreement.
She noted that at a press conference on Saturday. Schinas disagreed with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. who said on Friday that Hungary had been .”legally raped” by its EU colleagues.
“Before speaking about rape. he should study the European Treaty.” he said, adding that decisions related to migration are made based. on enhanced majority voting. and Hungary. and Poland were. the opponents at the EU summit in Granada. where they called for a stricter approach.
Schinas continued, “I personally prefer consensus.but you cannot reach. an understanding with someone who does not want it.”
Kourkoulas added that Orban is a warning of what could happen if the European Union does not come up with workable solutions.
He added, “We are stuck between right-wing trendsetters. and left-wing naivety. who believe that any effort. to guard the borders violates human rights.”
The “Med 5” group agreed to take a tough stance. on migrant crossings but .also emphasized cooperation with countries of migrant origin.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said. “Encouraging return to their homeland is important.”
Maltese Interior Minister Byron Camilleri.added that it is very important to .”send a clear message (that migrants who enter illegally). do not have the right to stay .and will return immediately to their home countries.” He added that 70% of migrants who arrived in. Malta have been returned.
He also said that all migrants came from Libya. but 70% of them originally came from Asian countries.
Konstantinos Ioannou. the Cypriot Minister. said that recent repatriation operations have exceeded the number of arrivals to his country.
Schinas emphasized cooperation with countries of migrant origin. including financial incentives. He said that countries must understand that “if they cooperate with Europe. they will gain, and if they do not cooperate, they will lose.” This approach has been termed “more for more. and less for less.”
He added that agreements are already in place with Tunisia, Egypt. and some West African countries. and that the European Union also needs to review its 2016 agreement with Turkey.
Under this agreement. the European Union offered Turkey up to 6 billion euros .(6.7 billion dollars) in aid for Syrian refugees hosted by the country. fast-track EU membership. and other incentives to stop migrants heading to Europe.
Schinas said. “We must destroy the business model of smugglers.”
The Mediterranean “Med 5” ministers called for an additional two billion. euros to deal with migration. They also expressed concern about the conflict between Israel .and Gaza that broke out on Saturday. and their concern that .the widening of the conflict in the Middle East could affect migrant flows. Kourkoulas said that most of .the recent migrants who crossed .the borders into Greece are from Gaza.
It was also noted that in addition to over 3 million. Syrian refugees in Turkey. there are 2.5 million others in Lebanon.