“Our country urgently needs to acquire a modern legal immigration mechanism”, said the Minister of Immigration and Asylum Dimitris Kairidis, who, in response to a topical question from ND MP Neoklis Kritikou regarding the transfer of seasonal land workers, announced initiatives, until the end next year.
The minister “outlined” interventions, both at a legislative and organizational level, and stated that “the possibility of submitting applications electronically should be provided for, in order to facilitate the employer”. He also said that the number of transfers should be given at the District level and not at the regional unit level so that the system does not get blocked.
On the administrative side of seasonal land worker transfers, the Minister for Immigration and Asylum described a “dysfunctional” and “uncoordinated situation”. “There is an issue of fragmentation of the system between the Regions, where the initial requests are submitted, the Decentralized, which belong to the Ministry of the Interior and are placed under its high supervision, the consulates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for visas, and then of course EFKA and all the other Services of the Ministry of Labor and so on”, said Dimitris Kairides and added: “It is a system which in practice today proves to be dysfunctional, understaffed, fragmented and often uncoordinated. A brave intervention is also needed at the administrative level, so that the country acquires a modern mechanism of legal immigration, with conditions and rules, fast and efficient, not that permits are issued after the cultivation season has passed and after the farmer no longer needs them”.
Mr. Kairides stated that the ministry is in constant consultation with the co-competent ministries in order to soon have a “comprehensive package of legislative, organizational and administrative interventions”.
ND MP Neoklis Kritikos pointed out that farmers and producers are very worried because they cannot cover labor needs in production and harvesting. “This concern is even more intensified in view of the fact that we are already in the beginning of November. The immediate resolution of the problem is necessary in order to avert the risk of either not cultivating large areas, or of not harvesting a significant amount of agricultural production”, said the ND MP and requested “an immediate, decisive and effective resolution of the issues related to the call-backs on ‘benefits of the entire agricultural production process’.
“The number of immigrants in Greek territory has been decreasing in recent years,” said the Minister of Immigration and Asylum and pointed out: “We had six hundred thousand of Albanian origin and we have less than four hundred thousand, they have left. And those who come irregularly also leave abroad. So the country remains a country of transit and not of destination.”
“Greece must invest in the mechanism of legal immigration”, said Dimitris Kairides and added: “let’s be honest and say that from a point onward only the seasonal one will not work, the idea that the other person will come will remain for some months, he will acquire no rights, no roots in the country and will leave and come back. Let’s also be realistic about how the market really works, based on the European experience, and let’s also talk about dependent work and talk about a number of other issues.”
At the same time, however, Mr. Kairides underlined that “the country is absolutely against illegal immigration and the data is recently moving in the right direction”. But at the same time, he noted, “we need – and it is a condition for economic prosperity and social stability – legal immigration, with conditions and rules, according to the needs, priorities, choices of us, of Greek society, so that the agricultural sector to breathe from this situation”.