Authorities on Lesvos, the main island gateway to the European Union for nearly a million refugees since 2015, have denied reports of plans to set up a new migrant camp, amid controversy over an alleged municipal campaign to deter groups of asylum seekers from visiting a popular beach.
Reports that municipal officials requested non-Schengen nationals to show their passport and other documentation before being allowed onto the Tsamakia municipal beach triggered an outcry on social media earlier this summer.
Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos told Kathimerini the restrictions have been lifted.
“We were told that this measure is illegal, so we stopped it,” Galinos said, adding that the screening measures were put in place to protect locals from inappropriate behavior.
“We need calm on the island. This has been upsetting. I am personally trying to protect social cohesion. Swimming at the municipal beach is everyone’s inalienable right – the people of Lesvos above all… It is not normal that people go there in their underwear and with their beers, in groups of 30 people, in a free-for-all manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Galinos denied speculation that authorities plan to transform the former Sourlaga factory into a migrant camp.
“Some extreme elements, irresponsible people, give politically motivated speeches at rallies,” he said.