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Brussels, 2 February 2011

Statement by Commissioner Malmström on the end of the RABIT operation and the launch of Operation Poseidon in Greece

Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs, said:

"The RABIT operation deployed by Frontex in Greece since 2 November 2010 until today 2 March 2011 has been of great importance for stabilising the situation at the Greek land border with Turkey. This has been a concrete proof of European solidarity. I wish to express my gratitude to all border guard officers deployed by the participating countries and by the Greek National Police as well as to the staff of Frontex for their dedicated work in the first ever RABIT deployment. The immediate launch of the Poseidon joint operation to follow up on the RABIT will ensure continuity in effectively controlling the Greek-Turkish border, as well as in addressing irregular immigration in the Eastern Mediterranean region. I call on all Member States to continue supporting and actively participate in this operation. I also count on Greece to continue its efforts to secure the border, to improve the migration cooperation with Turkey, and to ensure that all arriving migrants are received in human and dignified conditions.

The efforts that have been made since the request for assistance by Greece are to be seen as first steps in a much wider package of measures. The Commission urges the Greek authorities to improve reception and detention conditions for migrants coming to Greece. Vulnerable groups such as families, children, pregnant women, and victims of abuse must receive special attention and consideration. The Commission has provided financial assistance to Greece to this end and we are closely monitoring also the humanitarian situation which still gives rise to serious concern. The first asylum support teams coordinated by the European Asylum Support Office have been sent to Greece last week. Furthermore, cooperation with Turkey is of fundamental importance and I very much welcome the Member States' endorsement last week of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement. The Commission considers Turkey as an important partner and will soon take steps to launch a dialogue on visa, migration and border management."

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