PM broaches mi­gra­tion

On visit to Lesvos with Aus­trian leader, Tsipras seeks EU aid, vows im­prove­ments

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras yesterday re­it­er­ated his ap­peal for sup­port in deal­ing with an on­go­ing refugee and mi­gra­tion cri­sis dur­ing a visit to the eastern Aegean is­land of Lesvos with Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Werner Fay­mann.

“The prob­lem is not Greek but Euro­pean and we must tackle it to­gether,” Tsipras told re­porters. He and Fay­mann vis­ited re­cep­tion cen­ters and were briefed by lo­cal au­thor­ity of­fi­cials on the sit­u­a­tion on the is­land which has borne the brunt of a ris­ing in­flux of mi­grants.

Tsipras pledged to up­grade re­cep­tion fa­cil­i­ties by the end of Novem­ber. “We have to or­ga­nize the hotspots for the pro­ce­dures of reg­is­tra­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of refugees,” he said, re­fer­ring to the cen­ters Greece has pledged to set up on Aegean is­lands and at the port of Pi­raeus as part of an EU plan to re­lo­cate refugees.

Fay­mann, who Tsipras ap­pears to re­gard as an ally in his bid to raise sup­port for Greece’s ef­forts to tackle the mi­gra­tion prob­lem, has of­fered to send 100 ex­perts to as­sist with reg­is­tra­tion. Of­fi­cials in Brus­sels have been ac­tive too. A day af­ter the EU’s bor­der mon­i­tor­ing agency Fron­tex pledged to send hun­dreds of guards to Greece, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker of­fered Tur­key a plan un­der which it would re­lo­cate refugees as long as Ankara sets up new camps and bol­sters its coast guard to stop mi­grants head­ing for Greece. “It is clear we need Tur­key. The Com­mis­sion will come to its aid,” Juncker said. The plan is said to in­clude fund­ing for Tur­key out of 1 bil­lion eu­ros set aside for the refugee prob­lem.

Tsipras re­ferred to the need to work with Tur­key yesterday. “We have to co­op­er­ate with the Turk­ish author­i­ties... and or­ga­nize bet­ter con­di­tions so refugees do not risk their lives in the Aegean,” he said.

An EU pro­gram aimed at re­lo­cat­ing 40,000 refugees from bur­dened coun­tries on the EU’s ex­ter­nal borders is to start on Fri­day. The first to travel will be a group of Eritre­ans who will be re­lo­cated from Italy to Swe­den.

In an in­ter­view with the BBC, Euro­pean Mi­gra­tion and Home Af­fairs Com­mis­sioner Dim­itris Avramopou­los said 600,000 refugees have made asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions this year.

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