As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ramps up his threats to “open the gates” and release a wave of refugees into Europe, the Greek government is scrambling to ease the pressure on state-controlled camps on the Aegean islands and to overhaul the asylum application process.
Authorities aim to hire 200 more people to bolster the state asylum processing services by the end of October and to introduce stricter conditions for the granting of asylum.
As for the government’s bid to abolish migrants’ right to appeal rejected applications, sources said the aim is to ensure that applications are not “eternally” repeated but with respect for international law and European treaties.
Meanwhile efforts to free up space at camps on the islands are under way. Transfers to the mainland are to be stepped up and a new, more spacious, camp is to open on Samos where the Vathy camp is hosting 4,000 migrants, six times its capacity.
Erdogan’s threats to open the gates to a wave of refugees unless Turkey gets more support for hosting Syrian refugees are unsettling both Athens and Brussels.
On Saturday, Erdogan repeated his warning. “We made it clear to Europe that either they share the burden or we open our gates,” he said.