French presidential candidate says strong EU borders are needed

French presidential candidate Valerie Pecres underlines the need for strong European borders in a speech in Athens


ATHENS, Greece — French presidential candidate Valerie Pecques stressed the need for strong European borders during a visit to Greece on Friday, where she will also visit an asylum seeker camp on the Aegean island It is where migrants enter Europe from neighboring Turkey.


“There is no Europe without borders, and border issues are absolutely the key to building European power today,” Pekeres said, standing at the foot of the ancient Acropolis in Athens.

Pecresse is seeking to travel abroad to boost her status as a potential politician and establish her tough credentials on immigration as she tries to lure voters away from the influential French far-right.


“It’s not a European fortress at all, but it’s not a European supermarket either. When we need entry points, that means having doors. Having doors, you have to go through them, and for me, that’s my European model,” she said in a statement. said at the start of the two-day visit.

“It’s a model where when we want to get into someone’s house, we knock on the door and ask for permission to come in. It’s not a model where everything is open to everyone.”


Polls show up to a third of voters could choose one of two far-right candidates – Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemour – in the first round of voting on April 10. Both have made anti-immigrant rhetoric central to their strategy.

Macron’s government has also sought to limit immigration, calling for tougher EU rules and an increased crackdown on migrant smuggling.

Purchasing power and the pandemic are other major concerns for voters.

Pekeres met Greece’s center-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday, and she will travel to the eastern island of Samos on Saturday, where she will visit a camp for asylum seekers . The camp opened late last year to replace an extremely crowded facility on the island, where thousands of people live in squalid conditions, most of them in shanty towns growing up around the official camp.

Greece has been one of the main entry points into the EU for people fleeing poverty and war in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, most of whom use smugglers to reach Greek islands off the coast of Turkey.

But the government has cracked down on the practice, and arrivals have plummeted. Greek authorities have been heavily criticized for implementing what human rights groups say is a boycott — illegal and immediate deportation of recently arrived people without allowing them to apply for asylum. The government denies the practice, but does say it conducts vigorous patrols of land and sea borders and refuses entry to those trying to cross illegally.

The French presidential candidate praised Greece’s asylum policy, noting a sharp drop in arrivals.

“What Greece has done with its borders is exemplary,” she said. “They chose to be both firm and human.”

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Charlton is from Paris.

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Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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