Bratislava, April 10 (TASR) – Measures to halt migration flows approved by the European Union in mid-March have started working, said Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee) following his return from visits to Greece and Turkey, the ministry’s communications department told TASR on Sunday.
Lajcak stated that efforts to resolve the migration crisis are moving to a brand new stage, therefore. He visited Greece and Turkey along with his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders, who was representing the EU’s presiding country there, plus the foreign affairs ministers of France, Italy, Malta and Portugal. “We had a chance to assess the situation jointly on the spot three weeks after the adoption of key European decisions linked to tackling the migration crisis,” said Lajcak.
During their stay in Athens, the ministers held talks with Greek officials and visited a migrant reception centre in Eleonas, a suburb of the Greek capital. According to the ministers, protection of the EU’s external borders has already been improved, stricter controls relating to people entering the EU have been introduced and conditions have started to be created that will allow for a normal asylum process and the legal arrival of refugees who need protection.
“The goal of the visit to Greece was to show solidarity in the migration crisis, particularly in covering humanitarian needs stemming from the arrival and presence of thousands of migrants, and in strengthening capacities for conducting asylum procedures and return policy,” said Lajcak.
Lajcak said that Greece has managed to build a comprehensive system of migrant registration and reception centres in a short time. “Our role as European partners is to help them to work fully and in a sustainable manner,” he stated.
The Slovak Presidency of Council of the EU, which will follow the current Dutch one in the second half of this year, will continue the work that has already been started in this field. “This is a Europe-wide issue, and it will also be on our presidential desk. It will be one of the main issues and priorities,” stressed Lajcak.
Following his visit to Athens, Lajcak took part in talks with Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Minister for European Affairs Volkan Bozkir in Instanbul. The two discussed meeting the EU-Turkey agreement on returning and relocating migrants, as well as issues concerning Turkey’s EU accession process. Following the talks, Lajcak said that Slovakia views Turkey as a key partner in resolving the migration crisis and that it’s pushing for the strategic political dialogue with Ankara to be strengthened.