“Even if the number of arrivals remains relatively low, arrivals from Turkey have seen a significant increase since March 2018 and arrivals on the western Mediterranean route continue to show an upward trend,” EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Wednesday at a press conference.
Citing a European Commission report, Avramopoulos said a “significant increase” has been recorded in flows towards Greece since March 2018, both in the islands and over the borders. Specifically, 9,349 migrants and refugees have arrived at the islands since the beginning of the year and 6,108 overland, nine times more than last year.
“The EU therefore needs to show the necessary vigilance and preparedness to respond to any seasonal peaks or shifts in pressure,” he stressed and added: “We need to continue cooperating closely with key third countries such as Turkey, Libya and Niger.”
Asked whether this increase certifies non-implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, the Commissioner underlined that the Euro-Turkish agreement is in place and produces significant results. “Once arrivals used to exceed 30,000,” he said, confirming that the situation both at the Greek-Turkish border and in the Aegean is “under control.”
Responding to another question, Avramopoulos pointed out that the Commission is against the creation of a fence and that, on the contrary, looks forward to bridges of cooperation with neighboring countries.