The new conservative Greek government on Monday announced immediate measures aimed to ameliorate the effects of the still ongoing migrant/refugee crisis affecting the SE European country, especially a prompt and substantive improvement in the living conditions at "hotspots" on several eastern Aegean islands.
Greece emerged as a "gateway" to the EU for third country nationals because of its extensive border with Turkey, with people smuggling networks operating from the neighboring countries taking advantage of the proximity of several Greek isles to the opposite Asia Minor coast, as well as a land border in the Thrace province separated by a river. The situation took on explosive dimensions in the summer of 2015, months after the radical leftist Tsipras government assumed power.
The urgent measures were announced after a meeting in Athens between new Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who holds the migration portfolio on the Commission.
The emphasis will be on improved conditions for "at risk" groups, such as minors, especially unaccompanied minors still being smuggled into Greece.
At the same time, the new government promised better patrolling of Greek and EU borders, especially sea borders.
Another pledge is a faster and fairer procedure for processing asylum request.
Athens has also called for "strict" implementation of a landmark EU-Turkey agreement on repatriating irregular migrants to their home countries - via Turkey - who illegally entered Greece and do not qualify for asylum.