After elections, Greece vows to continue 'strict but fair' migration policy

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Newly appointed Migration and Asylum Minister Dimitris Kairidis speaks during a handover ceremony, in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' cabinet has been sworn in as his center-right New Democracy party had 40.55%, more than twice the opposition Syriza party's 17.84% on Sunday's elections. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Greece’s new migration minister promised Tuesday to continue a “strict but fair” policy toward migration and attempts at illegal entry into the country, following a sweeping conservative reelection victory in general elections.

“We are humanitarians but not naïve,” the new minister, Dimitris Kairidis, told reporters hours after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ new government was sworn in.

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The center-right New Democracy party hammered left-wing opponents in elections Sunday for a comfortable win. It has promised to extend a wall along the Greek-Turkish border and continue rigorous patrolling in the eastern Mediterranean to stop boats carrying migrants crossing into the European Union.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over multiple reports of summary deportations – also known as pushbacks – a claim that the government has denied but also refused to subject to the scrutiny of a fully independent inquiry.

The new government was sworn in days after a fishing trawler sank south of Greece with hundreds dead or missing, a disaster that has focused international attention on migration in the Mediterranean.

Kairidis said his government hoped to finalize approval for an EU-wide migration agreement over the next six months when fellow EU member Spain will hold the rotating presidency of the European Union.