Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with the country's 13 regional governors in Athens on Monday to present them with a plan that will link local government's funding to their support for the transfer of thousands of migrants and refugees from the islands to the mainland.
Outlining the government's strategy to relieve pressure on cramped island camps like Lesvos' notorious Moria and to address reactions on the mainland to the scheme, Mitsotakis said that regional authorities will be granted greater powers of oversight in the management of migration policy depending on their performance in absorbing and utilizing European Union and state funds to this end. If they go on to carry out their new responsibilities successfully, they will also be allotted a larger share of funding, he said.
“I cannot do battle asking Europe for more solidarity when there's no solidarity between us,” the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency quoted Mitsotakis as telling the regional governors.
Mitsotakis also announced plans to create “pre-departure” centers where migrants who are slated for deportation will be held in contained conditions until their departure.
Addressing the same meeting, Citizens' Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis added that 400 new border guards are being hired to patrol Greece northeastern land border with Turkey at Evros and another 800 to guard the country's sea border in the Aegean and island reception centers.
An additional 500 people are being hired to man the asylum processing centers on the island as part of a bid to speed up the process, Chrysochoidis said.
Meawhile, in an interview with Handelsblatt published on Monday, Mitsotakis described as “unacceptable” the Turkish Coast Guard's failure to react when informed by Greek officials that boats with migrants have left the Turkish coast. He said Turkey was violating the terms of its agreement with the European Union, signed at the peak of the refugee crisis in March 2016, to curb human trafficking across the Aegean.