The European Union will help Greece patrol its sea borders and will share the burdens of absorbing the latest migration wave, European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas promised Sunday.
Speaking at the congress of Greece’s ruling New Democracy Party on his first day as the Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, and one of the Commission’s eight Vice-Presidents, Schinas said that Greece has been “standing tall on the migration issue in the name of Europe” and that Europe would soon fill its part of the bargain.
“In a few months, the European coast guard will deploy guards to protect its border. (This) shows Europe’s will to finally guard our common borders. The Commission will propose a new migration and asylum pact. All member-states will share the burdens and pressures equitably. Europe will either show solidarity or it won’t be Europe,” said Schinas.
The new commissioner also criticized the previous government’s record on migration and the conditions of migrant camps, such as Moria on the island of Lesvos. He also attacked the “ridiculous stunts” of some opponents of migration, such as barbecue cookouts near migrant camps, advertised as to get under the skin of Muslims, who form the vast majority of camp residents.
“(In 2015), our achievement of participating in Europe on an equal footing was put in danger...because of some apprentice sorcerers,” he said, referring to the first Syriza cabinet.
Schinas praised New Democracy and its then leader, Vangelis Meimarakis, of helping ensure Greece’s continued full participation in the EU, “that hellish August of 2015.”
Now, Greece “is an oasis of stability in our stable region. We are the first country to become a bulwark to populism,” he added.
Before becoming a Commissioner, the 57-year-old Schinas served for five years as chief spokesman of the Juncker Commission (2014-19), as a Commission official and, briefly (2007-2009), as a member of the European Parliament.