Greece is now facing a migrant issue and not a refugee issue, as was the case in 2015, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday in his address to the Greek Parliament.
The PM explained that the majority of the people flocking to Greece’s shores now are economic migrants, not refugees. “We should acknowledge that on the basis of real data, the problem that we are now dealing with is a migration [problem,] not so much a refugee [problem],” Mitsotakis asserted.
The Greek premier said that in 2015, Syrians made up around 75 percent of migrants, whereas today that ratio has dropped to 20 percent. About half of the people arriving are economic migrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan, he stated, adding that they were being smuggled in by organized rings of traffickers.
Mera25 leader Yanis Varoufakis asked the prime minister to inform Parliament whether or not he intends to close down the Moria migrant camp and if he will “abolish internal borders that deprive migrants of the right to free movement within the country.”
“Refugees are one thing, economic migrants are quite another,” Mitsotakis replied in response to Varofakis’query.
Mitsotakis laid out four parallel policies undertaken by the government in a bid to remedy the situation, namely a more rigorous and fair asylum system (to be laid out in a bill soon to be brought before Parliament) and better coordination between the various state agencies and between the state and nongovernment organizations to improve monitoring and accountability.
He also intends to create stricter border controls, including increased sea patrols and additional border outposts in the Evros region, and he will initiate a campaign to raise awareness of the migration/refugee crisis as an international issue.
Additionally, Mitsotakis said Greece plans to request sanctions on EU member states which continue to refuse to take in migrant/refugees to fill the quotas that the EU has set.