PM Tsipras: Processing of Asylum Applications, Infrastructure Projects a Priority

The National Herald

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

LESBOS, Greece - Greece needs to accelerate the processes examining asylum applications, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in his address wrapping up the 14th Regional Conference on the North Aegean, on Lesbos on Thursday evening.

In a speech in Mytilini focused on government plans for handling the inflows of migrants and regional projects that will shore up island economy, Tsipras said, "The basic issue we need to face is accelerating the asylum process. This means more employees at the front-line welcoming services and more staff to process the applications."

He added more interpreters would also be needed, as well as resolving problems local communities and refugees face on the islands.

One of the projects Tsipras mentioned that needed a solution were the waste management system at Moria hotspot and the introduction of remuneration to residents of Moria on Lesvos and Chalkios on Chios.

The premier condemned attacks on migrants on Lesvos by extreme-right locals, and paid tribute to the grandparents of current residents of Lesvos who had been refugees from Turkey and had had to set up their lives from the start.

Tsipras said funds for major infrastructural works for hotels, agricultural enterprises, and exporting businesses for the North Aegean would come from the European Union's NSRF funds, Ministry of Interior allocations, and regional funds for the North Aegean. Local government would not be burdened with their cost, he said.

He also mentioned that 44 projects budgeted at 44 million euros and another 22 budgeted at 22 million euros were being incorporated into the Special Development Programs of North and South Aegean, a program set up in 2017 by the Finance Ministry to boost islands. Projects included water supply and sanitation sectors, ports, road construction, culture, tourism, health and education. "These concern crucial infrastructure that upgrade the islands' growth opportunities and improve their residents’ quality of life," Tsipras said.

He also noted that the islands of North Aegean had received total funds of 7 million euros since 2017, which covered weather-related damages and further prevention of such, lack of drinkable water, outstanding debts, and funds for small-island municipalities.