"Greece is finally acquiring a clear, concise and functional system of asylum," said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the parliamentary plenum on the Citizen Protection Ministry's draft law on migration asylum, which includes, among other relevant clauses, the acceleration of asylum application and approval procedures.
The prime minister added how "we must tackle migration crisis at both a national and European level."
"Every application for asylum will henceforth be processed within 6 months, as opposed to the current 9, and decisions will be made known to the applicant within 10 days, as opposed to the current 20," elaborated Mitsotakis but underlined that "if the applicant is not cooperating with authorities or leaves the country on the sly, these applications will be voided by default."
The new asylum system will prioritize separately cases of vulnerable individuals and those with delinquent behavior, Mitsotakis said, so that these cases can then progress via different official channels, while anyone who is found not to have applied for asylum immediately upon arrival will also have his/hers application voided.
"Post-traumatic stress disorder is also eliminated as a criterion of vulnerability, as it is difficult for doctors to diagnose and many falsely claim to suffer from it," said the PM.
"On the contrary," he explained, the notion of 'vulnerable' and 'protected' individuals now includes all minors - and not just unaccompanied minors," Mitsotakis pointed out, as new provisions are also being introduced in favor of extended families. Apart from married spouses and their children, members of the applicant's family will now include non-married partners of the asylum seeker, any extra-marital siblings as well as the applicant's parents, or anyone else who has custody of a minor child. Approved minors will be introduced to the respective levels of primary and secondary education.
Mitsotakis then described that when his government was elected into power in July, "thousands of migrants were stuck in hotspots at Greek islands, others were let loose in mainland Greece, some 70,000 asylum applications were pending approval, and all this while only 22 pct of the of European support funds for migration management in Greece were being absorbed into the actual managing of the issue."
The government's bill on migrants' asylum codifies five different relevant laws, one presidential decree and at least a dozen loose regulations and harmonizes these with European Union law and European courts' decisions, he pointed out.
Additionally, the new law integrates asylum seekers into a context defined by relations of mutual respect, as he said, with Greek authorities.
Moreover, Mitsotakis said that the bill simplifies and shortens the granting of asylum to those he called the "real refugees," and prioritizes refugee families, to whom the law grants instant access to health and education services, he noted.
On additional measures, Prime Minister Mitsotakis said that increased patrols in Aegean waters, including with thermal cameras, will also be introduced.
"The policy of open borders is just as wrong as the policy of closed borders," concluded Kyriakos Mitsotakis.