Greece warns European Union is not fit to cope with looming ‘major migration crisis’

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Its migration minister said the bloc must attempt to stop people from fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan to stem the flow of would-be asylum seekers. Notis Mitarachi ramped up his calls to follow through with the deportations of Afghan migrants that have failed with asylum bids. The Greek was amongst a group of ministers from five other EU nations that said ending returns “would send the wrong message”.

He said: “It would lead to more people trying to leave and come to the European Union.”

Mr Mitarachi has suggested that the EU should offer more support to Turkey to help relieve the pressures of more migrant arrivals from Afghanistan.

He also raised questions over whether the bloc would be able to deal with another migration crisis.

“Absolutely not, the EU is not ready and does not have the capacity to handle another major migration crisis,” he said.

Greece was at the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis some six years ago.

Almost a million people, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq landed on its outlying island after the dangerous crossing from Turkey’s shores in makeshift boats.

And now many EU governments are concerned that the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan could trigger a new wave of arrivals.

Mr Mitarachi said: ‘We are concerned about the implications of the deterioration in Afghanistan and that’s whit is very critical and very important for the European Union to be proactive in preventing such a crisis.”

The EU, however, faces a fight on two fronts to stem the flows of illegal migration into the bloc.

Its borders with Belarus have proven to be a tricky prospect to deal with when President Alexander Lukashenko has been accused of helping facilitate people’s journeys to the EU.

He has allowed flights to land from Turkey and Iraq, and has not offered much opposition to allowing arrivals to move to the EU’s borders.

Lithuania and Poland have called for EU aid to help tackle the situation as thousands of people arrive each week.

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Local officials in Lithuania have now reported more than 4,110 people have illegally crossed into their country via Belarus.

A joint letter from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Lithuania and the Netherlands called on the EU Commission to response to “these tactics”.

The group of nations said the use of illegal immigration to fight battles is a “new trend” in geopolitics.

Belarusian president Lukashenko, Europe’s last dictator, has previously been accused of waging a “hybrid war” against the EU.

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In response to the growing number of migrant crossings into Lithuania, Brussels has offered £31 million in support to the eastern state.

The cash will be used to set up shelters, offer medical care and process asylum cases.

Lithuanian premier Ingrida Simonyte told the Politico website: “We appreciate the initial Commission’s assistance for tackling organised irregular migration to Europe via the eastern EU border.”

“All our efforts are and shall be addressed to protecting the EU from the networks of people smugglers.”

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