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Greece “angrily” denounces Europe’s failure to take charge of the migrant issue

Translated Sunday 13 November 2016, by Adrian Jordan

The Greek migration minister, Yannis Mouzalas, expressed his “anger” at the EU’s failure in respect of its commitments to ease the migrant burden upon Greece.

"We are angry with Europe [because] it must finally meet its obligations" in respect of resettlement and supporting Greece in guaranteeing the implementation of EU-Ankara agreement, aimed at blocking the Aegean migratory route, stated the minister on Greek public television channel, ERT1. He was speaking at the time of 111 Syrian refugees leaving for Finland as part of the European program for sharing the 2015 flood of refugees amongst EU countries.

Refugees in Idomeni, Greece, at the frontier with Macedonia.

Photo by Louisa Gouliamaki, AFP

"Today, a year after this program was launched," Athens’ EU partners "have only taken charge of 5,000 refugees from Greece, while it promised to take in 33,000 of them" over the first year, and as many again between now and the end of 2017, he indignantly stated. He denounced the “sabotage” of the European project by the Visegrad group of states (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) that vehemently oppose it, and against which Greece demands EU sanctions. The European Commission initially proposed financial penalties against member states not playing ball in respect of resettlement but has not touched upon the subject since then.

Mr Mouzalas also took issue with the lack of European support for the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement envisaging the return of migrants – including Syrian migrants - coming from Turkey, who arrived in the Greek isles after 20 March. "The EU must support this agreement. It’s not a question of showing solidarity with Greece. It’s an obligation," he insisted. The EU promised back-up from asylum experts to allow Greece to organise the return of migrants under migration rules but these personnel “are absent”, underlined the minister. Greek services are overwhelmed as most of the migrants and refugees concerned have submitted demands for asylum in an attempt to block or delay their return to Turkey, causing “overpopulation” of the isles, where the build-up creates growing tension, notes Mr Mouzalas. The Greek government wants to transfer part of the population to detention centres on the mainland but finds itself blocked by its European partners who fear a massive resurgence of irregular migrants, complained the minister.

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