The German newspaper Handelsblatt published a front-page interview today with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who spoke to interviewers about Greece’s economy, migration, and how it has exited the financial crisis.
Mitsotakis used tough language to describe the current refugee and migrant crisis, which has created an almost unmanageable situation in the country’s eastern Aegean islands as well as in parts of the mainland.
The Greek Premier blasted not only Turkey, but Brussels and Eastern EU member states as well, in the broad-based interview.
The European Union views Greece as ”convenient parking for refugees and migrants,” Mitsotakis said angrily, reiterating that he will not take it anymore.
The Greek PM said that the situation where certain EU member states take advantage of the Schengen Area and the freedom of movement for EU citizens — but refuse to share the burden of refugees and migrants — has to end.
Mitsotakis referred to a certain group of Eastern EU members, such as Poland, Hungary and others, which continue to categorically refuse to comply with EU law and receive their share of Greece’s and Italy’s migrant populations.
The Greek premier also voiced his anger at Turkey, charging that Ankara uses refugees and migrants as leverage to force Europe to make concessions.
”I have said very clearly to President Erdogan that he cannot exploit immigrants and refugees if he wants to have good neighborly relations with Greece,” Mitsotakis told the German daily.
The Greek PM gave an example, saying that Greece has recently been trying to communicate with the Turkish Coast Guard each time FRONTEX or Greece’s Coast Guard spots a dinghy coming toward Greece. ”There is no reaction on their part; this is unacceptable,” Mitsotakis said.
Η Ελλάδα θα είναι μια άλλη χώρα σε δύο χρόνια από σήμερα. Οι πολίτες είναι αισιόδοξοι ενώ το κλίμα αυτό αντανακλάται και στην εικόνα της χώρας στις διεθνείς αγορές. Οι επενδυτές επιστρέφουν και έχουμε αφήσει πίσω μας την κρίση. Συνέντευξη στη Handelsblatt. https://t.co/j8Yqxnd3wK pic.twitter.com/TOgsIUPs4k
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) November 18, 2019
The Greek Premier said that it is time for a European solution on the issue, reiterating his agreement with the German Interior Minister’s proposals for the reform of the European Asylum process and the ”Dublin Regulation.”
According to these proposals, asylum seekers will be able to begin the application process in countries outside the EU and will then be able to finish it in any EU member state, rather than being obliged to do it in the nation of their entrance, which is normally either Greece or Italy.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is planning to create at least six new enclosed migrant camps on islands as well as on the mainland of the country.
Prime Minister Mitsotakis also declared that Greece is no longer a state in need which asks for help but a ”a country that participates on a level playing field on major European and global issues.”
He referred to the positive signals coming from the economy, mentioned the rise in investors’ interest in Greece, and noted that his administration is a rare example of a government which has already implemented more than it had promised to do before the elections.
Mitsotakis also stated that Greece is now the West’s line of defense against populism, noting that in the last general elections “we defeated both the left populists and the far-right Golden Dawn extremists.”