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Migration a European, not a bilateral Greek-Turkish issue, Vitsas says

Migration is a European issue and not a bilateral concern of Greece and Turkey, Parliament Vice-President and main opposition SYRIZA MP Dimitris Vitsas emphasised on Monday, in an interview with the parliament television channel “Vouli”.

The former migration policy minister criticised the government for its delay in transferring people from the Lesvos hotspots to the mainland and described the abolition of the migration policy ministry as “a mistake”.

“From the first moment of the new governance, [SYRIZA] noted that the government took too long to understand the reality with respect to the refugee crisis. Today, 1500 vulnerable individuals are leaving Lesvos for facilities on the mainland. When in the opposition, New Democracy raised objections regarding the definition of vulnerability. These people were planned to leave for the mainland in early July and they are leaving now,” Vitsas said.

On the abolition of the migration policy ministry, he accused the government of scrapping a key secretariat for housing issues “for the sole purpose of removing the general secretary” and sending the deputy chief of police, who had unparalelled experience in these matters, into retirement.

He further pointed out that individual consideration of asylum applications on two levels was required by international law and warned: “If they scrap the refugee committees then all the cases will go to court, with an even greater delay.”

Regarding SYRIZA, he said the party was preparing itself to “be the body that will politically express the entire range from leftist social democracy to the radical Left,” turning it into an inclusive party with diversity and a clear ideological, radical Left identity.