ATHENS – “We are facing a major crisis, I do not know if it can be compared with the one in 2015 but the government’s reaction is very decisive,” stated Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi in a TV interview on Tuesday.
“The suspension of asylum procedures is sending a resounding message that Greece does not consider all those illegally entering the country to be refugees. On the contrary, they are individuals that are being exploited by the neighbouring country (Turkey) in order to dispute Greece’s sovereign rights and we are determined to react,” he said.
On Mitsotakis and the heads of the European institutions arriving in Evros on Tuesday, Mitarachi underlined: “The fact that the heads of the EU bodies are coming to Greece in a few hours indicates their active support, it is something without precedent. We ask for European support but we are also acting independently and protecting our borders long before anyone else reacts.”
Asked what Greece will request at Wednesday’s EU Interior and Migration Ministers’ Council, he said: “Currently, Turkey is using people, it is spreading fake news and taking advantage of human pain in order to put pressure on Greece’s sovereign rights by blackmailing Europe. This demands an overall answer from the EUropean bodies.”
Finally, on the decongestion of the islands, he said that from the second half of 2019 until today, 18,700 people have been sent to mainland Greece, adding that the relocation operation is constant and will continue. “In cases of crisis especially, as those we have today, we would be much safer if we had closed centres instead of the open facilities that now operate,” he added.