The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Immigration Yiannis Mouzalas inspected the progress of the reception identification centers (hotspots) in Chios and Leros.
Tsipras stressed that it’s Europe’s turn to honor its commitments. He stated that even though Greece is enduring difficult conditions the country and the government has managed to deliver on its promises and it’s now the other European member-states turn to implement their own obligations, as is also Turkey’s obligation to contribute substantially to reduce the refugee and immigration flows.
“Greece today is fulfilling a basic obligation towards a major European problem. An obligation to manage in a human way these large refugee and migration flows, especially in the islands,and simultaneously to identify all the refugees who tread their foot on European soil with solidarity and humanity “noted Tsipras.
Tsipras noted that the “Greek islands are in a difficult but historical position having to take on their shoulders the weight of all of Europe, I would say the weight of humanity, because we are facing unprecedented refugee flows”.
Finally, he thanked and congratulated the local authorities, the islanders, and the Coast Guard that have helped save hundreds of lives in the Aegean noting that “this is a sea that we should not think of as a liquid tomb, we have to work to make it a sea of peace and solidarity”.
Tsipras is expected to meet Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday on the sidelines of the European Council in Brussels before both leaders take part in a mini EU-Turkey summit that will include Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands.
In Athens, the government continues to find it difficult to house the migrants that are being returned from the northern village of Idomeni because they are not being allowed to cross the border into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Authorities had been hoping to move hundreds of people from temporary accommodation at the Tae Kwon Do Stadium in southern Athens to the Field Hockey Stadium at the Elliniko complex nearby but were not able to as preparations had not been completed.
Teams of workers were still cleaning the site, which the government hopes will house at least 700 people, on Wednesday. Officials expect it to be ready on Thursday.
The UNHCR has already set up two large tents at the site to help provide extra shelter for migrants who are moved there.