The Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas dubbed the immigration issue a matter of great national importance, speaking to the press corp on Tuesday.
Mr. Petsas said the government’s goal was to relocate 4,000 more refugees who fit the asylum profile across mainland Greece by the end of November, adding the construction of closed pre-departure centres had been streamlined, making it clear, as he said, to those entering Greece that they would have no other choice but to be sent back.
Regarding the relocation of migrants from the islands in Greece, where local communities are in turmoil due to the large influx of people from Turkey, to mainland Greece, he stressed that the percentage of migrants would not exceed 1% of the indigenous population per local region.
The government spokesman noted that by the 20th of November, thousands of migrants will be flown inland, adding that according to the plan, these new migrants would not be sent to areas that had recently accepted migrants.
He added that these inland regions would be reinforced with all the necessary infrastructure.
As he explained, “we have to support the islands. All Greeks will do so because they understand the concept of solidarity.” The goal, however, is for 10,000 returns by the end of 2020.
Commenting on the reactions by the local communities, he stressed that they were “to some extent justified”, however, pointing out: “Greeks know what refugee status and uprooting means and they embrace refugees.”
He also revealed that “despite the profligacy investigated by OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office investigation), only 22% of the EU funds had been used up”.