Athens, October 7, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Do you feel the need to apologise to the Greek people for New Democracy’s participation in the governance of the country from 1974 onwards?
The visit of the Austrian Chancellor in Lesvos sends a message that the refugee issue is a European problem, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed during his meeting with Mr. Faymann on the island.
Following the meeting, Messrs. Tsipras and Faymann visited refugee reception and identification facilities. Specifically, they went to the port of Mytilene as well as temporary reception centers in Moria, Kara Tepe and PIKPA (Village “Oloi Mazi”) where they had the chance to learn about the reception procedures, identification and reception of asylum requests.
“Greece is a country in crisis, a small country in capabilities and Lesvos is a comparatively small island, which receives massive flows of refugees coming from the embattled Syrian area in search of a better future in Europe. And these people, traveling thousands of kilometers, fleeing from war and risking their lives in the Aegean, request the obvious, the ability to have a human behavior, they to be identified soon, to have food, medical care and continue their long journey to a better future ” said the Prime Minister.
In this context he stressed that this is not “a Greek problem” but a “global and a European problem” and “if it is a European problem, we have to face it together.”
“The EU has no reason to exist if it doesn’t operate on the values of solidarity and cooperation” he said.
The Greek Prime Minister and the Austrian Chancellor also met with N. Aegean Prefect Christiana Kalogirou and Mytilene mayor Mr. Galinos.
As announced by the Greek side, in the context of the visit, the close cooperation of the two countries on dealing with the refugee issue was confirmed, as well as the need for a gradual approach to the issue to ensure both the efficiancy and the necessary humanitarian aspect.
In statements before leaving Lesvos, Mr. Faymann heralded his country’s contribution to the operation of the identification centers and registration of refugees, the so-called Hotspots in Greece and the 30 million euros funding of the United Nations Food Programme.
Tsipras under fire from the opposition
Democratic Coalition leader Fofi Genimata accused Alexis Tsipras that “today in Lesvos, just like yesterday in parliament, he proved that he is contempt with presenting a virtual reality”.
“However the cycle of hallucinations has permanently closed. Neither the refugee issue will depart the country with a ferry boat, nor will the problems of the Greek people be solved with chatter on the easy subjects and silence on the difficult ones. The problems are here, they are many and they demand solutions. Mr. Tsipras can no longer hide the truth. Moreover, the budget figures describe the harsh reality in the most merciless way. The country needs seriousness, consultation, planning and work” she stressed.
On its part, the River Party (To Potami) noted that “the Austrian Chancellor, Mr. Faymann, had to ask to visit the refugees on the Greek islands in order for Mr. Tsipras to be forced to visit Mytilene”.
It also stressed that “months had to go by in order for the River Party’s constant position to be promoted for a great agreement with Turkey – with EU mediation – so that immigration and refugee flows could stop on its territory”.
Responding to president J.C. Juncker’s statement that he is “preparing an EU – Turkey MoU” and is ready to allocate staff to guard the border and provide extra funds, the River Party underlined that “the EU’s spur to action should have occurred since the spring before hundreds of thousands of people went through an ordeal and human lives were lost. But in the spring Europe was inert and the Greek government was talking about immigrants “basking” in the sun in the morning and “disappearing” at night”.