Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday chaired a meeting between government officials and local authority officials from the eastern and northern Aegean in a bid to break a deadlock over the construction of new migrant detention centers on five islands.
The meeting comes after three days of protests on the islands, which became particularly violent on Tuesday and Wednesday on Lesvos and Chios and left dozens of police officers and island residents injured.
“I would like to express my regret at the scenes we all witnessed. Police officers and state functionaries who wear the national emblem and they are also the kid next door,” Mitsotakis told the assembled officials, referring to one incident when a group of enraged locals attacked eight riot officers in the hotel where they were staying on Chios.
“At the same time, though, incidents of excessive force from the part of the police also need to be investigated. Serious accusations have been made and these need to be looked into,” he added.
The prime minister also urged local authorities to sit down with the more extreme elements among the protesters and seek some common ground that will ease tensions.
“All of these people are profiting from a national problem,” he said.
Mitsotakis is also planning visits to the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios in the coming days, while assuring local officials that the government will increase border patrols and speed up the asylum process.