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Greece to host mini-summit on migration with Germany, Turkey: minister

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Greece will host a mini-summit on migration with the leaders of Germany and Turkey in early 2016, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Sunday.

[ATHENS] Greece will host a mini-summit on migration with the leaders of Germany and Turkey in early 2016, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Sunday.

"We will call on Chios (island) a meeting between (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel, (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and ourselves, and we plan to cross over to (Izmir) to see both sides," Kotzias told Mega TV.

"No date has been set... it could happen in early February," he said.

Greece has consistently called on Turkey to keep refugees and economic migrants from endangering their lives in crossing the Aegean Sea to Europe.

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"(Algerians and Moroccans) fly to (Istanbul) with just 50 euros... they should not be allowed out of the airport," Kotzias said.

After revelations that two jihadists involved in the Paris attacks last month slipped into Europe through a Greek island, posing as refugees, Athens has faced heavy scrutiny over its screening of more than 750,000 people who have landed on its shores this year.

Earlier this month there were reports that Greece's place in the EU's passport-free Schengen zone was in jeopardy because of failings in its handling of the migrant crisis.

Also Sunday, the head of EU border agency Frontex said Greece had held up the planned deployment of additional security staff in October by failing to provide squad commanders.

"We had available border guards from October but were delayed because the Greek squad chiefs had not been appointed," Fabrice Leggeri told Kathimerini daily.

"We cannot send border guards without Greeks in charge.... This week 19 Greeks were provided and we still lack another 12," he said.

Kotzias countered that in contrast to Greek security staff who work "flat out", Frontex shuts down on weekends.

"Frontex would shut down at 2:00 pm and would not work on weekends," he told Mega.

"We asked for 780 staff for the islands and they have given us (around 430) at this point," he added.

The European Commission is pushing for a new 1,000-strong EU force to slow the record flow of migrants across the EU's external borders.

Kotzias also noted that cash-strapped Greece has so far spent nearly 2.0 billion euros (S$2.1 billion) on managing the migration wave in 2015, and expects to receive 450 million euros from the EU in coming months.

AFP

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