ATHENS – Agitated over being essentially ignored, officials of Aegean islands close to Turkey want Greece’s government to take more than 15,000 refugees and migrants to the mainland, an idea Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has refused, apart from smaller numbers being transferred.
Mouzalas said he can’t do mass movement because it would violate the terms of a suspended European Union swap deal with Turkey, which lets human traffickers send the refugees and migrants, who have fled war and strife in the Middle East.
Officials from Lesbos, Samos and Chios were set to join other protesters in descending on the Greek capital Dec. 5 outside the migration ministry to step up their demands and said they want to meet with Mouzalas, who is staying away from them.
Ironically, the EU’s migration chief is a veteran Greek politician, New Democracy’s Dimitris Avramopoulos, but he has not pushed other countries to honor pledges to take refugees and migrants from Greece after they closed their borders to them.
He said the so-called Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that refugees can only apply for asylum in the first countries in which they land – almost Greece and Italy exclusively as few fleeing Syria can go directly to Germany or other countries – has to be reformed although he’s not making any moves to do so.