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Current and former migration ministers meet to discuss decongestion of islands

Featured Current and former migration ministers meet to discuss decongestion of islands

A two-hour meeting took place on Thursday among current and former migration policy ministers who discussed pressing issues relating to the management of the migration crisis in Greece. 

Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi and Deputy Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos met with SYRIZA party's former ministers Yiannis Mouzalas and Dimitris Vitsas, and with parliamentary group secretary Olga Gerovassili, following a request by the main opposition party. 

The meeting was called for by Syriza, following concerns about the situation, as Vitsas said, "which has led to a terrible overcrowding at the islands, where both asylum seekers and islanders are suffering, so we have to find solutions."

Prior to the meeting, Mitarachi said he believes "it is very important to have the best possible communication among parties when it comes to the migration crisis." He also expressed appreciation for the participation of Vitsas and Mouzalas, "who have strong personal experience on the issue's management."

The  reportedly looked into congestion at the North Aegean islands' refugee reception and identification centers, refugee returns, enclosed detention centers, the role of NGOs and Greece's positions concerning negotiations with EU's partners on a common European migration policy. 

According to ministry sources, participants saw a convergence of opinions on the need to decongest the islands, by transferring refugees into mainland facilities and by increasing refugee's returns. 

Although Mitarachi and Koumoutsakos made no statements after the meeting, Vitsas said they discussed practical issues despite their policy disagreements. "We all know that Greece cannot resolve the migration/refugee issue on its own," he said, but human rights of both residents and refugees can be served.