Recent increase in refugees is temporary, Dep. Minister Balafas estimates

It does not benefit Greece to exaggerate on the issue of migrant flows, Deputy Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Balafas said on Friday in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency’s radio station Praktoreio 104.9 FM, referring to a recent increase in migrant arrivals on the Greek islands.

“The increase in the number of refugees arriving at the Greek islands is a fact and we are monitoring the situation closely. However, this increase has fallen off in the last few days and we hope that this trend will continue,” he said. Meanwhile, Balafas added, authorities were attempting to increase the returns to Turkey of those not entitled to international protection while speeding up asylum procedures.

The minister noted that the EU-Turkey joint declaration had a beneficial and supportive impact in terms of refugee and migrant flows from Turkey to Greece and that, despite various failings and problems, it is being respected by all sides.

Balafas estimated that the recent increase of refugees is temporary. “Though one cannot be absolute and certain, it could be assumed that this has to do with the tension between the Turkish government and Germany,” he said, adding: “Fortunately, these problems did not affect tourism on islands.”