As borders fortified, PM to meet with regional officials

As borders fortified, PM to meet with regional officials

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to meet on Wednesday with the country’s regional governors in a bid to move forward with his government’s plan to set up new reception centers for migrants on the mainland and relieve pressure on overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands. 

On Tuesday Mitsotakis met in Vienna with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country has sent police officers to help guard the Greek-Turkish land border. 

Mitsotakis thanked Kurz for his country’s contribution to bolstering Greece’s land border with Turkey, which came under pressure earlier this month after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared he was “opening the gates” to refugees. Kurz noted that inflows have eased in recent days.

Mitsotakis, who discussed the migration crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, said he was hopeful that Turkey and the European Union would find a way to cooperate while calling on Ankara to “do its duty” and curb irregular migration toward Europe.

Ahead of an EU leaders’ summit planned for March 26 and 27, Mitsotakis called on the EU to “crystallize” its strategy regarding the migration crisis and Turkey. 

On Tuesday Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis met with regional governors in Athens to prepare them for today’s talks with the Greek premier.

He sought to appease their concerns, noting that the government has two key aims: to reduce migration flows and to limit the repercussions of migrant arrivals on local communities.

Pledging to maintain a dialogue with local and regional authorities about the plans to create new centers, Mitarakis said the capacity of the facilities will not exceed 1 percent of the population. 

The government’s plans to build new reception centers on both the Aegean islands and the mainland have prompted angry protests by local residents and authorities.

With this in mind, Mitsotakis is expected to underline the need for all regions to assume their share of the burden in responding to the migration crisis but also pledge to provide them with offsetting measures for their trouble.

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