PM de­mands more EU ac­tion

Tsipras tells MPs he is ashamed of Union’s stance on refugees as more peo­ple drown in the Aegean

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The ris­ing death toll in the Aegean, where at least 35 peo­ple drowned yes­ter­day while try­ing to reach Greece, prompted Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras to lash out yes­ter­day at coun­tries within the Euro­pean Union that he be­lieves are not do­ing enough to help tackle the cri­sis.

“I feel ashamed as a mem­ber of this Euro­pean lead­er­ship, both for the in­abil­ity of Europe in deal­ing with this hu­man drama, and for the level of de­bate at a se­nior level,” Tsipras told Par­lia­ment.

His out­burst came af­ter more boats car­ry­ing refugees and mi­grants sank near Greek is­lands. There were sev­eral chil­dren among those who drowned. More than 100 chil­dren and in­fants have drowned in the Aegean over the last two months. Tsipras ac­cused some Euro­pean of­fi­cials of not car­ing about th­ese deaths and “cry­ing crocodile tears” over them.

He said that Greece would con­tinue to pro­vide as­sis­tance and dis­missed the idea that his gov­ern­ment was seek­ing some­thing in re­turn.

“Greece is in cri­sis,” Tsipras told MPs “We are a poor peo­ple, but we have re­tained our val­ues and hu­man­ity, and we aren’t claim­ing a sin­gle euro to do our duty to peo­ple who are dy­ing in our back yard,” Tsipras said.

“In­stead of at­tack­ing and crit­i­ciz­ing each other, it is very im­por­tant we find com­mon so­lu­tions,” said Hun­gar­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Pe­ter Sz­i­j­jarto who vis­ited Athens yes­ter­day. He also told Kathimerini that his gov­ern­ment fa­vors the cre­ation of a Euro­pean agency to guard the EU’s bor­ders that would help Greece pa­trol the Aegean.

Spy­ros Gali­nos, the mayor of Lesvos, which has seen the big­gest in­flux of all the Aegean is­lands, called on Euro­pean of­fi­cials to reach an agree­ment with Turkey for refugees to be pro­cessed on the neigh­bor­ing coun­try’s soil.

“Refugees have to be reg­is­tered in Turkey so we pre­vent so many peo­ple from drown­ing,” he said. “Our mor­tu­ary is full of dead bod­ies and we have to get a li­cense to cre­ate a new area where the dead can be buried.”

Gali­nos sug­gested that if the EU is not able to se­cure the co­op­er­a­tion of Turkey, then pas­sen­ger ships have to be sent across the Aegean to pick up the refugees and bring them to Lesvos, where they can be reg­is­tered.

“We are not talk­ing about man­ag­ing a prob­lem, we are talk­ing about stop­ping a crime,” he said.

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