NEWS

EU alliances sought to boost migrant returns

TANIA GEORGIOPOULOU

TAGS: Migration, Politics

As tensions at migrant camps on the Aegean islands simmer amid continuing arrivals, the government is looking at ways of accelerating the return of those whose asylum applications are rejected.

Greek authorities are seeking alliances with other European countries who either have better ties with migrants’ countries of origin or who might be able to help organize the returns.

On Wednesday, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis and his alternate, George Koumoutsakos, met with Austria's Ambassador to Greece Hermine Poppeller.

Mitarakis underlined the need for European Union member-states to cooperate in establishing common procedures for the return of migrants deemed not to merit refugee status.

“The migration crisis is an issue for all of Europe and should be addressed accordingly,” he said. “We are asking our European partners to actively show their solidarity to our country and support measures to swiftly reduce inflows.”

Meanwhile the regional governor for the Northern Aegean, Kostas Moutzouris, issued a new call for a state of emergency to be declared on three islands.

“The government was wrong to reject our request to declare a state of emergency on Lesvos, Chios and Samos,” he said. “If the current situation is not an emergency, then what is?” 

Separately, police on Lesvos are probing an incident on Tuesday night involving about 20 youths wielding clubs who attacked regulars at a bar in the port of Mytilene where students and NGO employees were gathered.

The same group reportedly asked locals and foreigners to identify themselves in Mytilene and in the village of Moria. 

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