Vitsas highlights importance of Portuguese president’s visit to Thiva refugee camp

Portugal has always been very supportive of Greece, especially on issues relating to migration and the refugee crisis, Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas noted on Wednesday, in statements after accompanying Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to a refugee camp in Thiva.

“We must not forget that two Portuguese ships are currently stationed among the islands of the Aegean,” Vitsas pointed out, while noting that the Portuguese president had referred to the refugee issue during his talks to both the Greek president and the prime minister.

“It is important during the current phase to collect the greatest amount of support that we can, since there are voices in Europe – and I’m not talking only about racist or bigoted voices – that must be shut out. There are also phobic voices that would not mind blaming Greece for an issue that is basically also humanitarian and European. I consider that he came away with a good picture of what we are trying to do,” Vitsas said.

The minister also noted that Portugal was one of the countries that had met its relocation quotas, at a time when other countries had “below zero” compliance rates.”

Asked whether the abolition of Schengen was among the issues discussed during the Portuguese president’s visit, Vitsas replied that both presidents had rejected such a possibility, considering the Schengen area vital to the idea of united Europe.

Replying to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency regarding possible changes to the Dublin II treaty, Vitsas indicated that changes were necessary:

“That which is certain is that Dublin I has collapsed. It is clear that a discussion is underway concerning Dublin II and we are pushing, in collaboration with the Greek Commissioner, so that it goes in a good direction…I think it is clear that a series of issues that concern the [Dublin Treaty] are unenforceable. And, I consider, if people think about it, no one wants them to be enforced,” he said.