PM says Greece ‘has reached its limits’ on migration

PM says Greece ‘has reached its limits’ on migration

The first priority for the new European Commission should be managing migration, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday at an event on youth participation in European politics.

“Greece has reached its limits. We need a common system on asylum that will replace Dublin,” he said, adding that the sharing of the burden should not be just an empty slogan without any substance.

Mitsotakis said that Greece receives an average of 500 asylum seekers a day, the situation on the Greek islands is now “unmanageable,” and the transfer of refugees to the mainland is causing reactions by the local population.

“We do not see how this trend will stop in the near future,” he explained, stressing that migration is an issue that concerns the entire EU.

The prime minister was special guest at the event, which is part of the European People's Party's (EPP) Statutory Congress for the election of its new leadership and of the EPP's Summit. 

He said younger generations will have to deal with the challenges of environmental protection, economic inequalities and the gap in digital skills.

"Development will come through people with skills who are now abroad and will return to Greece if the right conditions are set," the Greek premier said, and highlighted the creation of new jobs, tax reduction, and digital skill training as being most important.

"If we, as center-right parties, do not provide solutions to these challenges, we create space for populists," he stressed.

Mitsotakis also spoke of Greece's "determination to become a pioneer country in managing climate change," while he added that young people were also occupied by the issue of inequalities created by globalization.

The proceedings opened on Wednesday and the two-day schedule includes addresses by the Greek premier and New Democracy (ND) leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his successor, Ursula von der Leyen, and President of the Cyprus Republic Nicos Anastasiades.

Before his address, Mitsotakis took part in the vote for the new EPP leader and only candidate, outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk, who will succeed French politician Joseph Daul.

Mitsotakis' schedule on Wednesday included bilateral meetings with with the European Commission's chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, Prime Ministers of Romania Ludovic Orban and Norway Erna Solberg and former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. In the evening will attend the expanded EPP Summit.

On Thursday at 9 a.m. (Greek time), he will meet with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenkovic. At 11 a.m. (Greek time), he will participate in a panel discussion on the EPP's initiativs to tackle climate change and later on the prime minister is to deliver his central address to the EPP congress.

[Kathimerini, ANA-MPA]

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