PM vows campus lawlessness crackdown

Mitsotakis seeks cooperation of deans to set up disciplinary body for troublemaking students

PM vows campus lawlessness crackdown

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has vowed there will be no letup in the government’s effort to restore order at Greek universities, which continue to be plagued by sit-ins.

In an interview with Antenna TV, Mitsotakis vowed that the rule of law will prevail and that trespassers will lose this battle even “if the police need to go to universities more often to evacuate occupiers,” as has been the case in recent months, with Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos ordering a series of interventions at institutions of higher education.

According to the prime minister, the reason why all these incidents are now of interest is because the government has decided to tackle the issue of sit-ins and violence at universities head on, as nothing had been done in the past because this dire situation on campuses had been considered business as usual.

Another pending issue is that of the university police body, with Mitsotakis admitting that the relevant announcement had been delayed. 

“Its implementation proved to be a more complex exercise,” he said, while insisting that in no way had the project been shelved, as, starting on Monday, the first police officers who will staff the university police will start training in Komotini, northeastern Greece. Once the training is completed, the new body will be deployed, starting from the institutions where there are problems.

However, the endeavor is not a simple one as it hinges on cooperation with the university authorities, which so far has not always been good. 

In view of this, Mitsotakis said rectors “have an obligation, according to the law, to prepare security plans for universities,” adding that “they must also understand that they have an obligation to the institutions they serve, to cooperate with the state so these phenomena end, once and for all.”

He went even further, proposing the establishment of a disciplinary body for students who engage in lawlessness. 

“Someone who keeps on entering [university grounds] and smashes things [cannot be allowed] to remain a student.”

What is clear is that the battle of the universities is one of the major challenges the government faces, as it was a central pre-election commitment of ruling New Democracy.

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