Mounting tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over migration and asylum: a European problem

Strasbourg, 24.01.2013 – Given the mounting tensions over asylum and irregular migration into Greece, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has underlined the need to rethink responsibilities here and deal with what should be recognised as a European problem and not one confined to a single or a few European States.
Greece, the main entry point for irregular migrants into the EU, and Turkey, the main country of transit, which has taken in 150 000 refugees from Syria, will not be able to resolve their difficulties “without greater solidarity and assistance from the EU and other member states of the Council of Europe”, was the view taken by PACE members during a debate held under urgent procedure in Strasbourg today.

In this context, PACE called on member states to substantially increase their assistance to Greece, Turkey and other front-line countries, to support further assistance by the EU to these countries and to consider the issue of the relocation of refugees and asylum seekers within Europe.

In the resolution adopted on the basis of the report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), the Assembly also called on Greece to avoid the automatic recourse to detention and ensure that unsuitable detention facilities are closed as quickly as possible, while welcoming the measures announced recently by the country to improve its asylum mechanisms and detention conditions. In addition, it urged Greece to combat the rise in racism and xenophobia towards migrants in society and in political discourse.

At the same time, the Assembly recommended that the Committee of Ministers consider the issue of resettlement and relocation and examine how Greece or other countries can be assisted to deal with large backlogs of asylum cases, taking into account the Council of Europe’s expertise in the administration of justice.

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