NEWS

After visiting hot spots, Tsipras to demand EU live up to pledges

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed on Wednesday to shift the pressure that the European Union has put on Greece over the refugee crisis back onto the country’s EU partners at the leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

“It is now the turn of other European states to put into action the pledges they made,” said Tsipras as he visited the islands of Chios and Leros to inspect the work being carried out to create two of the five “hot spots” that Athens has promised for housing refugees while they wait to be relocated to other EU countries.

Tsipras suggested that he would raise the slow pace of the relocation scheme during the Brussels talks since less than 100 refugees have left Greece as part of the program, which aims to transfer a total of 66,000.

The prime minister also indicated that he would demand EU action to ensure that third countries are keeping to the agreements they have made to readmit migrants who do not qualify as refugees.

The SYRIZA leader made reference to the recent pact between the EU and Turkey over stemming the flow of migrants.

He said he would ask EU officials to check whether the terms of this agreement are being implemented by Greece’s neighbor.

Tsipras is expected to meet Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday on the sidelines of the European Council in Brussels before both leaders take part in a mini EU-Turkey summit that will include Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

In Athens, the government continues to find it difficult to house the migrants that are being returned from the northern village of Idomeni because they are not being allowed to cross the border into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Authorities had been hoping to move hundreds of people from temporary accommodation at the Tae Kwon Do Stadium in southern Athens to the Field Hockey Stadium at the Elliniko complex nearby but were not able to as preparations had not been completed.

Teams of workers were still cleaning the site, which the government hopes will house at least 700 people, on Wednesday. Officials expect it to be ready on Thursday.

The UNHCR has already set up two large tents at the site to help provide extra shelter for migrants who are moved there.