After his predecessor, fellow New Democracy veteran Dimitris Avramopoulos did little to help their country deal with an overwhelming refugee and migrant crisis, the European Commissioner in charge of that, Margartis Schinas, said that will change under him.
Officially in charge of the European Way of Life, which critics said discounted helping refugees and migrants who aren’t allowed into Europe, Schinas told the congress of his party that the bloc will help with border patrols and share the burden, without saying if that means spreading them around to other countries which refused to take them.
Schinas said that Greece has been “standing tall on the migration issue in the name of Europe” and that Europe would soon fill its part of the bargain, said Kathimerini in a report on his appearance as Prime Minister and party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis had ripped the EU for not doing enough to help.
“In a few months, the European Coast Guard will deploy guards to protect its border. (This) shows Europe’s will to finally guard our common borders,” he said without explaining why that’s not being done immediately as thousands more refugees and migrants are coming monthly from Turkey - where they had first gone fleeing war and strife in their homelands - and being sent by human traffickers to Greek islands.
“The Commission will propose a new migration and asylum pact. All member-states will share the burdens and pressures equitably. Europe will either show solidarity or it won’t be Europe,” said Schinas.
He didn’t say if that would involve taking recalcitrant countries to court to make them live up to pledges to take in some of the overload from Greece, which Avramopoulos said he couldn’t do because it was too politically sensitive for him to handle.
Schinas blasted the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA’s handling of the refugee and migrant crisis that saw scores of thousands of them packed into island detention centers and camps that human rights groups and activists said weren’t fit for humans, but he said nothing about the same complaints being made against New Democracy.
With more than 96,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, including some 34,700 on islands, Mitsotakis said his government would move 20,000 to the mainland send 20,000 back to Turkey but didn’t say how he could force that country to live up to terms under a suspended 2016 swap deal with the EU to take back those deemed ineligible for asylum.
He also attacked the “ridiculous stunts” of some opponents of migration, such as barbecue cookouts near migrant camps, advertised to irritate Muslims, who form the vast majority of camp residents and don’t eat pork or drink liquor.
“(In 2015), our achievement of participating in Europe on an equal footing was put in danger...because of some apprentice sorcerers,” he said, referring to the first SYRIZA government and then heaped praise on New Democracy’s leader then, Evangelis Meimarakis, to get the country through “that hellish August of 2015.”
That was in reference to then-Premier Alexis Tsipras, after reneging on his own referendum asking voters to reject more austerity measures - they did, he didn’t so that Greece could get a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($94.72 billion,) closing banks, imposing capital controls and calling for snap elections for September that year, which he easily won, trouncing Meimarakis and the Conservatives before they handily won this year’s July 7 snap polls.
Now, Greece “is an oasis of stability in our stable region. We are the first country to become a bulwark to populism,” said Schinas, whose job is supposed to be non-partisan.