Almost on a daily basis, meetings at the Maximos Mansion tend to revolve around the migrant issue – and no longer the refugee issue- as the government has renamed the problem.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by Minister of Citizen Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis, Minister of Interior Takis Theodorikakos, Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis, Secretary General of Migration Policy Patroklos Georgiadis and Special Secretary for Reception Manos Logothetis.
One of the decisions made was that the special communication on the migrant-refugee issue would be solely handled by the Special Secretary for Reception Manos Logothetis. It is indicative of the importance the Maximos Mansion now attaches to it. Something that SYRIZA did in the past, that led to the compassionate George Kyritsis briefing on the numbers of daily arrivals while trying to find excuses for the almost violent blocking of journalists from the totally violent evacuation of Idomeni.
The essence of yesterday’s meeting does not lie in the communication management of the exacerbation of the problem, but in the second decision regarding the immediate involvement of the Minister of Interior Affairs and of Takis Thodorikakos, in order for support to be provided to the Municipalities and Regions that will be involved in depressurizing the islands from the thousands of migrants. It is noted that a few days ago in a meeting between Michalis Chrisochoidis and the 13 regional governors, he had asked for their support to address the problem.
Yesterday’s meeting came as a follow-up to the cabinet that decided to strengthen the border guard, increase patrols at sea, tighten conditions of stay by constructing closed pre-departure centers for those who entered the country illegally and are not entitled to asylum or their application was rejected, alongside the increase in returns, from 1,806 in the 4.5 years of the previous government’s reign to 10,000 by the end of 2020.
It is noted that in the last 48 hours 800 more refugees have arrived in Moria to add up to the approximately 13,000 stuck in abject and inhumane conditions. It is recalled that the figure stood at 5,600 at the end of June in Moria, while September was the month with the largest number of arrivals in the last three years; about 10,500. It happened to fall on the month the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting in New York was in the works. While the institutions were preparing for the meeting, Erdogan was sending some thousand refugees and immigrants to Greece just to set the right tone. Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ toned-down approach he keeps on exercising since his election did not press any buttons for the Turkish president.
Dissatisfaction in New Democracy
Yet the government and Takis Theodorikakos will have to put up with their own mayors and their followers in local communities that are already ready to leave. In Serres and Kilkis, for example, municipalities that host refugees in shelter centers or in apartments with much effort are holding back their protests for the refugees that are already in the area.
Most blue-sided mayors prefer to listen to ministers such as Adonis Georgiades and Makis Voridis who have found an opportunity to stand up and set the political tone for the government’s hardened stance following the cabinet meeting.
Since they are illegal immigrants, Adonis Georgiadis said within six months they will return to Turkey, which has no other choice but to accept them …
“If they enter illegally, they are not entitled to humanitarian protection”, said Makis Voridis (at least he did not state they deserve no human rights, but that was a close second).
In this way, the two executives are raising expectations for local populations and blue municipalities. “If the ministers are right, then why are they not sending them back” is the right question for right-wing voters and mayors.
Of course, it is not just easy for them to return to their countries whatever their immigration profile is, and the ministers in-charge know that. In order to be consistent with the right-wing perception, the government is focusing on tightening asylum procedures and deteriorating living conditions, while leaving local communities unprepared, which will be the ones doing all the heavy lifting eventually. If they explode, it won’t be their fault; that’s what the ministers tell them. /ibna