Not fair for Greece to manage migration burden alone: Mitsotakis
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis criticized EU partners for not supporting Athens' efforts to manage migration and said the country should not carry the burden alone and be accused of not saving irregular migrants.
Last month, a fishing boat, which is thought to have been carrying between 500 and 700 passengers, went down in international waters off Greece in the early hours of Wednesday. A little over 100 people have been found alive and search efforts were expected to be formally called off on Friday.
The causes of the shipwreck are still being investigated. Survivors have said that the ship capsized after a disastrous towing attempt by the Greek coast guard, which Greece denies.
Mitsotakis, who won an election on June 25, said on Monday that his country sits on the external border of the "very dangerous" Mediterranean crossing, a route migrants and refugees increasingly use to enter the EU.
He said the EU's recent deal on migration was a positive step but it was not the only solution to the issue, which he said was "fundamentally a European problem" and the EU bloc had to work hard to come up with a comprehensive solution.
"It is very unfair for countries such as Greece ... to be burdened with the task of managing this problem or be accused of actually not saving people at sea when this is what our coast guard does every day," Mitsotakis said from Riga, after meeting his Latvian counterpart.
"We should be placing the blame squarely on the smugglers and those who facilitate them. They are the ones who at the end of the day who are responsible for whatever tragedy takes place in the Mediterranean," he said.
Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Nearly 1 million refugees and migrants crossed from Türkiye to Greece’s islands in 2015, but inflows have been significantly reduced since an EU-Türkiye pact in March 2016.
Mitsotakis is expected to meet re-elected President Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of a NATO Summit this week.