An airplane chartered by Dutch activists to pick up asylum seekers from Lesvos and transport them to the Netherlands was denied permission to land on the island on Monday and arrived at Athens International Airport after changing course.
The airplane, with a capacity of 189 passengers, took off from Rotterdamon Monday morning and was seen as an effort by the activists to pressure their government to accept asylum seekers in the Netherlands.
The Greek Migration Ministry said in a statement that “a state cooperates with other states within a specific framework” and that “the bypassing of the institutionalized procedures can only be to the detriment of the refugees.”
A ministry official said that the rules must be followed.
“There must be respect for the people who are seeking protection in Europe,” the official was quoted as saying.
The first Greek-Dutch long-term shelter for unaccompanied minors on the Greek mainland was officially put into operation in late September.