ATHENS – With Greece largely left on its own to deal with some 100,000 refugees and migrants and face off against Turkish provocations, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis repeated his call for the European Union to get more involved on both counts.
In an interview with Politique Internationale, a quarterly French political affairs magazine, published ahead of his visit to Paris on Jan. 29, Mitsotakis said, “Any problems Greece has with Turkey, or with any other country, are automatically also problems of the European Union,” which he earlier said wasn’t doing enough to help.
He especially wants a tougher stance against a deal Turkey made with Libya dividing the seas between them and claiming waters off major Greek islands such as Rhodes and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanting to drill for oil and gas off Crete.
Mitsotakis said the deal was a “blatant provocation” toward all of Europe although the EU so far has issued only soft sanctions for Turkish drilling off Cyprus – a member of the bloc – amid criticisms of going too soft on Erdogan who said he would send millions more refugees and migrants through overwhelmed Greek islands onto the continent.
“Europe, together with Greece of course, should react accordingly. They should remind
Erdogan that our borders are immovable and unnegotiable,” said Mitsotakis while describing Greece as a “pillar of stability and security in the East Mediterranean.”
He accused Turkey of not respecting its refugee and migrant swap deal with the EU, taking back about 2000 over the last five years while allowing human traffickers to keep flooding Greek islands with more, including nearly 50,000 additional after Mitsotakis’ New Democracy took power in July 7, 2019 snap elections, ousting the Radical Left SYRIZA.
“Europe does not seem to treat our problem as a European problem,” Mitsotakis told the French magazine, apparently exasperated with not getting more help even though the European Commissioner in charge of the problem is Margaritis Schinas from New Democracy, as was his predecessor, Dimitris Avramopoulos.