Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday unveiled a four-point plan for dealing with migration, following a surge in arrivals over recent months that is testing the limits of the Greek islands.
“The legislation, the direction of policy and the day-to-day management of the problem will be changing,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers.
Reiterating the belief that the majority of new arrivals are economic migrants rather than refugees, Mitsotakis said that the asylum-granting process will be speeded up and made “strict but fair,” in a bid to clear a backlog of thousands of applications.
The second part of the plan envisions improved coordination between the different sections of the public administration involved in the management of migration, while the third priority is bolstering border patrols, as well as continuing efforts to move migrants from overcrowded island camps to mainland facilities.
“More than 20,000 asylum seekers will be moved to 10 regional units on the mainland,” Mitsotakis said, suggesting that locations have been agreed with regional authorities following reactions in some parts of the country.
The premier added that he will address the issue at the next European Union summit, possibly recommending sanctions for European countries that flout agreed quotas.
He also said that Turkey “has to live up to its responsibilities.” Ankara “has the ability to control inflows to the Aegean,” Mitsotakis said. “It cannot give the impression that it is exploiting this issue for its own geopolitical ambitions.”