Amid a continuing increase in the influx of undocumented migrants to Greece from Turkey, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired an emergency meeting on the matter over the weekend and is expected to broach the subject with both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly summit in New York this week.
The meeting at the Maximos Mansion over the weekend – the second within a month – concluded that efforts should continue to ease the pressure on state facilities on the Aegean islands and that the presence of Hellenic Coast Guard vessels in the area should be boosted, as should aid from the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex and NATO.
There are particular concerns about the situation on the island of Lesvos after more than 400 migrants landed there on Friday and arrivals continued over the weekend. The acting manager of the overcrowded Moria facility, which is hosting around 12,000 people, informed local authorities that the camp can take no more new arrivals and the matter is expected to be discussed by local officials on the island Monday.
Mitsotakis, for his part, is expected to broach the subject when he meets Merkel in New York, with sources saying that the government is hoping for the EU to give Ankara an incentive, possibly additional funding, to accelerate the return of migrants to Turkey in line with an agreement signed by Ankara and Brussels in 2016.
Mitsotakis’ meeting with Erdogan – his first since becoming premier – will also be closely watched, firstly for signs of Ankara’s intentions vis-as-vis Greek-Turkish ties but also amid exploratory talks for a new peace push on Cyprus following months of provocative actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
While in New York, Mitsotakis is to meet with US President Donald Trump Tuesday, as well as with would-be investors and members of the Greek diaspora.