Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ended his visit to migrant and refugee hotspots being set up at the Aegean islands of Chios and Leros on Wednesday with a vow to shift the pressure that the European union has put on Greece regarding the refugee crisis back onto the country’s EU partners at the EU Council of leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
He expressed the belief that the time has come for other EU states to keep their pledges now that Greece has made good on its promise to house refugees while they wait to be relocated to other countries. Local groups in the area however said that the visit to the hotspots was just a “communication trick” and that work to create these had started just a few days prior to the PM’s scheduled visit with work carried out up until the night before his visit.
In Athens, the situation is worsening as the government is finding it hard to house migrants returning from the northern village of Idomeni following the closure of the border by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Teams are still working to get the Field Hockey Stadium at the Hellenikon complex ready so taht hundreds could be moved from the temporary accommodation at the Tae Kwon Do stadium.
The Greek leader expressed frustration regarding the slow pace of the relocation scheme where less than 100 refugees have left as part of a program that aims to transfer 66,000 people. In Brussels, Tsipras will call for the acceleration of the program and demand for third countries to readmit the migrants who do not qualify as refugees.
The PM made reference to the EU-Turkish pact to stem the flow of refugees, and it is expected that Tsipras will ask EU officials to ensure that the terms of the agreement are being implemented.