Gov’t mulls trans­fer of mi­grants

In wake of Er­do­gan threats to un­leash ex­o­dus of refugees, Athens con­sid­er­ing free­ing up island cen­ters

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Mi­gra­tion Dim­itris Avramopou­los yes­ter­day stressed the im­por­tance of keep­ing alive an agree­ment be­tween Ankara and the Euro­pean Union to crack down on hu­man smug­gling in the Aegean af­ter Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan threat­ened to un­leash a wave of mi­grants on Europe.

“The agree­ment must be hon­ored at all costs,” Avramopou­los said dur­ing a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los.

The pres­i­dent struck a sim­i­lar tone, say­ing that “ev­ery­one must keep their prom­ises” and that Er­do­gan’s com­ments are not ben­e­fi­cial to Turkey. Er­do­gan’s threat came af­ter MEPs voted on Thurs­day to freeze EU ac­ces­sion talks with Turkey in protest at Ankara’s “dis­pro­por­tion­ate” re­ac­tion to a failed coup in the country in July.

The rift be­tween Ankara and Brussels has un­set­tled Athens as ten­sions are al­ready high in over­crowded re­cep­tion cen­ters for mi­grants on Aegean is­lands and a new wave of refugees would cause se­ri­ous up­heaval.

At cri­sis meet­ings in re­cent days in­volv­ing of­fi­cials at the Mi­gra­tion Min­istry and Cit­i­zens’ Pro­tec­tion Min­istry, there were pro­pos­als for mi­grants to be trans­ferred from island cen­ters to the main­land to free up space, Kathimerini un­der­stands. The gov­ern­ment had been keen to avoid the en masse trans­fer of mi­grants to the main­land, fear­ing it would prompt a new wave of ar­rivals from Turkey. Ac­cord­ing to the plan, mi­grants sent to the main­land would be re­turned to Turkey via Evros in north­ern Greece.

The gov­ern­ment came un­der more pres­sure af­ter the deadly fire Thurs­day night at the Mo­ria pro­cess­ing cen­ter on Lesvos, which led to the death of a woman and a child and the se­ri­ous in­jury of two oth­ers.

Tsipras ex­pressed his con­do­lences to the fam­ily of the victims, say­ing he was “shocked” by the in­ci­dent.

The 60-year-old woman and her 5-year-old grand­child, both Iraqi Kurds, died when their tent caught fire af­ter a cook­ing gas can­is­ter ex­ploded.

The tragedy led to fresh crit­i­cism of Mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Yian­nis Mouza­las by op­po­si­tion par­ties re­gard­ing over­crowded camps on Aegean is­lands. Mouza­las said the only op­tion now is to cre­ate ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties to de­con­gest the camps, but the idea has been re­sisted by lo­cal res­i­dents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.