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Politics

Petsas: Greek Rescue Team in Beirut to Assist in the Search for the Injured

ATHENS — "We are all shocked by the deadly blast in Beirut," said government spokesperson Stelios Petsas at the press briefing on Thursday.

"Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his sorrow and sent his condolences to the families of the victims and expressed the Greek government's willingness to assist Lebanese authorities with their massive search and rescue mission," he added.

Petsas reported that a Greek Fire Brigade emergency rescue squad was already in Beirut and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection was in constant contact with Lebanese authorities and the European Civil Protection mechanism in order to sent further support if needed.

Commenting on the latest developments concerning the pandemic, Petsas repeated that the virus has not gone away, that it is here and feeds on people's carelessness and complacency. "We have been sounding the alarm for many weeks now, not only through statements but with successive decisions for an increase of checks and the imposition of additional measures, especially the use of masks indoors," he said.

On Greek-Turkish relations, Petsas referred to Mitsotakis' statements during the 2020 Aspen Security Forum:

"The prime minister said that Turkey's behaviour is destabilising and this is not only Greece's problem but also a problem for Europe and the United States."

On migration, the government spokesperson said that "today, through the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, we had the start of the first flight, on which 134 Iraqis will depart for their country of origin. The programme offers a 2,000-euro financial incentive and is exclusively for migrants on the Greek islands who arrived before January 1, 2020. It is the largest voluntary return of migrants carried out by Greece and the largest in Europe in 2020."

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