Lesvos mayor: Decision to send Navy ship to house migrants is a ‘unilateral action’ harmful to the island

Lesvos Mayor Spiros Galinos on Friday strongly criticised the government’s decision to send a Navy tank landing ship to act as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers during the cold weather, accusing the ministry of “unilateral actions that irreparably harm the island of Lesvos.” Among others, Galinos objected to the placement of chemical toilets in the harbour of Mytilene to serve the needs of those staying on the vessel, without any prior consultation with the municipality.

“When we are trying with all our strength to escape from the images of 2015, for which we bear no responsibility, it seems that with your actions you are attempting to create the situation once again. In fact, ahead of the new tourism season and with the daily presence of foreign press representatives on our island, you do not hesitate to proceed extortionately and without any consultation with unilateral actions that irreparably harm the island of Lesvos,” he said in a letter sent to Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Friday.

Among others, the mayor accused the ministry of an “inability to function effectively within its own area of responsibility [namely, the hotspot in Moria] and attempting to extend and continue its clearly failed policy with tragic repercussions for the island of Lesvos.”

Galinos insisted on the need to reduce overcrowding on the island, leaving the number of asylum seekers that existing facilities were able to accommodate, as well as measures to protect the refugees and migrants from wintry conditions. Instead of this, he added, the ministry had opted for “an unprecedented psychological blackmail” in order to promote the specific policy, which had led to the conversion of Mytilene’s harbour to a temporary reception centre “when there was essentially no emergency and sufficient time for planning and action.”

Noting that he represented the society of Lesvos, Galinos warned that the island will oppose and fight for the island’s inalienable right to progress and prosperity and its efforts to get back on its feet, while asking for the “immediate removal of any installations from the interior of Mytilene harbour and the transfer of a satisfactory number of asylum seekers to centres in mainland Greece, until overcrowding on the island of Lesvos is finally relieved.”