Greece striving for agreement with Italy, Spain and Malta on migration, Vitsas says

Greece is currently striving to reach an agreement on the handling of refugee and migration issues with Italy, Spain and Malta, Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas told the journalists covering his ministry during a briefing on Wednesday.

He revealed that Greece intends to raise issues concerning the distribution of the refugee burden in Europe and the creation of a single system for granting asylum with the European Commission. According to the minister, common positions with the other three countries countries have been found but the issue will be raised at the next EU summit in June, since the current political scene in Italy may cause delays.

After visiting the five islands that have hotspots, Vitsas reported that he witnessed the greatest problems on Samos and Lesvos, while things were somewhat better on Chios, Kos and Leros. The minister said his agenda included a plan for decongesting the islands, as well as meetings with local officials and communities to discuss how to achieve a balance between the rights of refugees, migrants and locals.

He also announced that a draft bill now tabled in Parliament will incorporate two EU directives that will allow faster examination of asylum applications, strengthen the committees dealing with asylum issues and resolve issues linked to the compensation of those living near hotspots.