EU Treats Us Like Parking Spot for Migrants, Says Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis

AFP

Athens: Greece's prime minister has accused the European Union of treating countries on the bloc's external frontiers as convenient places to park migrants, in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis told German newspaper Handelsblatt that the EU "ignores the problem" of rising numbers of arrivals in Greece.

Roughly 1,350 people arrived on Greece's Aegean islands between Friday and Monday, according to the Greek coastguard, adding to more than 32,000 people already living in miserable conditions in Lesbos, Samos, Leros, Chios and Kos — camps with a combined capacity of just 6,200.

"It cannot go on like this," said Mitsotakis, who won power in July.

"Europe regards arrival countries such as Greece as a convenient parking spot for refugees and migrants. Is that European solidarity? No! I will no longer accept this." Mitsotakis also singled out Turkey for criticism, saying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "trying to use migration as a lever to pressure Europe and achieve concessions".

In early November Erdogan said he would "open the gates" for millions of refugees held in camps in Turkey if the EU criticised his offensive against Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria — the latest in a series of similar threats.

"I frankly told President Erdogan that he cannot abuse migrants and refugees as instruments if he wants to have good neighbourly relations with Greece," Mitsotakis told the newspaper.

At the beginning of October, Mitsotakis announced that 20,000 people would be relocated from the Greek islands to the mainland by the end of December to relieve congestion in the camps.