Intent on tackling the refugee crisis head on, the government aims to push for an overhaul of the so-called Dublin Regulation, which stipulates that migrants must apply for asylum in the first European Union country they enter, a provision that has put much of the burden on Greece.
A meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas last week focused on plans to move thousands of migrants out of overcrowded facilities on the Aegean islands and into new centers on Crete.
Sources indicated that the initiative was decided on amid reports that German authorities were planning to send some 3,000 migrants to Greece in the coming weeks, citing the Dublin Regulation.
Tsipras is planning to broach the refugee crisis in upcoming talks with European socialist heads of state expected to take place in Paris on August 25, along with a discussion about the prospects for lightening Greece’s debt.
Tsipras’s aim, according to sources, is to arrange a subsequent meeting in Athens to discuss the same issues in more detail, probably on September 9.
Indications by Turkey that it might not honor a migrant deal with the EU have fueled concerns in Greece that a slowed migrant influx could pick up again. Greek officials insist that a slight uptick in migrant arrivals on the Greek islands remains manageable but in private they are concerned.
Athens recently welcomed a decision by the European Commission to create a mechanism to accelerate the relocation of refugees from countries on the bloc’s external border, like Greece, to other EU member-states, hoping that it could be a prelude to a revision of the Dublin Regulation.
However, diplomatic sources have indicated that any such change is unlikely during Slovakia’s presidency of the EU, which finishes at the end of the year.
In comments to Sto Kokkino FM on Wednesday, Mouzalas said the regulation must be changed. As for an overhaul of state-run facilities for migrants, he said the aim was to create “autonomous reception areas with schools and kitchens.”