EU border agency plans to leave Greece 'inconceivable': Athens
On June 13, a trawler carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of Greece.
Greece's new migration minister, Dimitris Kairidis, said on Tuesday that a meeting with EU border agency Frontex is scheduled to be held in the coming days after last month's boat migrant tragedy which saw the deaths of several migrants on June 13.
According to sources, human rights officers at Frontex said that the coastguard may suspend its operations in Greece due to the poor treatment of migrants, which includes illegal pushbacks and other violations of the sort that Greek authorities have denied.
"I consider Frontex leaving our country inconceivable, in the sense that I don't imagine they would shoot their own feet," Kairidis told state TV ERT on Monday.
The minister added that he has seen the minutes of a Frontex board meeting in which the agency's presence in Greece was being debated over the tragedy.
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On June 13, a trawler carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of Greece, resulting in an unknown number of deaths. About 104 people were rescued, while 82 bodies were recovered, estimates reveal.
Survivors said that the Greek coastguard intentionally caused the trawler to sink as they attempted to tow the vessel, an allegation that Greece has rejected.
Frontex fundamental rights officer Jonas Grimheden is the leading voice spearheading plans for Frontex's withdrawal, and Karidis said that Athens is ready to "address any complaint."
Karidis said that he will soon be meeting with representatives from the agency in the near future.
"We want good cooperation...I take the criticism very seriously," he said.
"Nobody knows exactly what happened," Kairidis added, noting that the criticism of Athens is "unfair" and that the international press had a "tendency to focus on the negative, which sells."
He added that Greece is in favor of forming agreements "so that (the boats) can return safely back to the Libyan coast, sending a message to illegal smugglers and to those tempted to risk their lives."
Greece has already signed migrant worker agreements with Bangladesh and Egypt in order to satisfy a demand for at least 100,000 jobs in the agriculture, tourism, and construction sectors, he noted.