Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis responded on Tuesday to the video purportedly showing the forced expulsion of migrants at sea from Greek territory calling the incident unacceptable and confirming an ongoing investigation.
The video, presented by The New York Times, allegedly shows 12 migrants, including women and children, being transported by a van and then put out to sea on an inflatable raft on the island of Lesvos.
In his first television interview since his party’s landslide victory in the Greek elections on May 21, Mitsotakis told CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour that he has already ordered an investigation into the incident.
“I take this incident very seriously,” the Greek premier said.
Asked if Greece was wittingly engaging in pushbacks, Mitsotakis said: “Absolutely not.”
He described the video as “a completely unacceptable practice.”
He reaffirmed Greece’s commitment to a strict yet fair immigration policy, safeguarding Greek and European borders and saving countless lives in the Aegean.
Mitsotakis also blamed Turkey for allowing, and in some cases, compelling migrants to enter Greek territorial waters.
EU calls for investigation into migrant expulsion from Greece
The EU has already called on Greece to open an independent inquiry into video footage. The EU Home Affairs Commissioner revealed that she had contacted Athens and urged Greece to investigate the migrant incident, alluding to concerns that European laws had been broken.
Some EU legislators urged the Commission to adopt a more stringent approach towards Greece, even proposing the initiation of an infringement procedure. This course of action would grant the Court of Justice the authority to impose penalties if it determined that Athens had violated EU laws.
Greece has responded to similar incidents by stressing that it has a right to repulse undocumented migrants attempting to enter the country illegally.
Mitsotakis stresses the importance of investment grade for Greece
During the interview with CNN, Mitsotakis emphasized his main focus on achieving higher economic growth rates, reducing inequalities, and increasing wages. He also underscored the significance of Greece regaining its investment grade with a strong government post-June 25 elections.
Recognizing the need for economic recovery after years of austerity measures and a significant 25% decrease in GDP, Mitsotakis expressed confidence in the ND government’s capability to achieve faster growth and transform Greece into an attractive investment destination.
He pointed out that the government has already made progress in this regard by reducing taxes and unemployment by over 6%.
While addressing the election results, the prime minister expressed satisfaction with defeating the populist opposition twice in a row, emphasizing the importance of delivering tangible results for citizens and countering empty promises.
Regarding Greek-Turkish relations, Mitsotakis recognized the gradual nature of foreign policy changes and expressed hope to maintain positive momentum.
He emphasized the resolution of the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) based on International Law, cautioning against the revisionist “blue homeland” doctrine that threatens national sovereign rights.
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