The government is in a state of red alert regarding the refugee and migrant crisis, as the problem is mounting and local societies on the islands that host migrants say they have reached the limits of their enurance.
Moreover, a large part of the EU-Turkey agreement on readmission remains unenforced, and EU countries have not assumed their share of the burden of resettling refugees.
Amnesty International has noted that EU countries have fulfilled only 28 percent of the resettlement targets.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday chaired an inter-ministerial meeting on the government’s next steps in managing the crisis with Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas, Alternate Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas, Alternate Interior Minister for public order Nikos Toskas, and Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis.
It was decided that the government will pass legislation that will expedite asylum procedures, and that any strategy must be in line with international law.
The meeting came amidst growing criticism in the international press, such as the British Telegraph and the Swiss Neue Zurcher Zeitung, over the dreadful conditions at the migrant camp in Moria on the island of Lesvos.
In the past few days the government has been mulling measures to decongest the island hot spots, namely with an initiative to resettle refugees and migrants in closed residence centres, until their asylum applications are reviewed.
The migration minister has been critical of Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos, accusing him of blocking the installment of pre-fabricated housing structures in Moria.
“The local residents should assist in the government’s efforts to decongest the islands and to improve the living conditions in the camps.
To soften the resistance of Lesvos residents, It required a telephone call from State Minister Alekos Flambouraris to the mayor of Lesvos, to assure him that the structures are not a new facility but rather a replacement for the existing tents. Galinos appeared satisfied when the minister put his clarifications in writing.
For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told To Vima in an interview that “our security forces, mobilising all of their capabilities avert passage on land and at sea.” “Turkey is implementing the 18 March agreement to the letter. We expect the same from the EU,” he said.
European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has called for closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey, but also for a domestic political consensus in Greece, at the level of party leaders.