Alternate Citizens Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis complained on Wednesday that the European Union’s immigration policy has imposed a disproportionately heavy burden on Greece, indicating that Greece’s European peers might feel differently if the country opened its borders and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants to continue their journeys to other EU member states.
He claimed that money from the EU to accommodate undocumented migrants is not a solution, as the country must deal with the “social and other repercussions of wars and civil strife,” referring to the conflict-ridden countries from which most migrants come. “We should share that influx,” Panousis said.
“I would open the borders and let 500,000 people into other countries, and then we’ll see how sensitive Europe is about [the problem],” he said.
Panousis’s comments, made to Vima FM radio, drew a sharp response from New Democracy’s press spokesman Costas Karagounis, who described them as “a bad joke.”
The comments came a day after Panousis announced that migrants will not be held for more than 18 months in Greek detention centers which are to gradually close down.