Mitsotakis: Greece now facing migration crisis on eastern sea borders

Friday, 04 October 2019 13:06
Nikos Libertas / SOOC/Nikos Libertas
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis continued to hammer home his government's view that the continued arrivals of third country nationals onto a handful of eastern Aegean isles - after first setting off from Turkey - is a "migration" crisis, rather than a mass arrival of Mideast war refugees.

In answer to a tabled Parliament question by Yanis Varoufakis, the controversial one-time finance minister who founded his own small radical leftist party that entered the legislature in the July 7 election, the center-right Greek leader said "we do not fences or wall, we want rules".

He was responding to Varoufakis' inquiry over the fate of the notorious Moria "hotspot" on the island of Lesvos (Mytilene), a woefully overcrowded and often squalid camp hosting third country nationals who have requested political asylum in Greece - after first arriving from Turkey.

On his part, Mitsotakis reiterated that the UN makes a clear distinction between refugees and would-be economic migrants, while dismissing Varoufakis reference to the "New Colossus" sonnet that is written on  plaque at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

"Economic migrants of previous generations who reached the United States knew that they would first pass through Ellis Island, where they were registered... Do not compare a country built by immigrants, a multi-cultural country, such as the USA, with Greece or other European countries," he said.

In beginning his address from Parliament's podium, Mitsotakis said:

"Let us agree that refugees are one thing, economic migrants are another."

He noted that in 2015 - Greece's annus horribilis - witnessed some 75 percent of the hundreds of thousands of third country nationals ferried onto the islands as being from war-ravaged Syria. Currently, only 20 percent of the people illegally entering the country say they are from the Mideast country, with 50 percent being Afghans and Pakistanis being transported by smugglers, along with many being from sub-Saharan Africa, he added.

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