Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to a change in Athens' policy concerning the granting of asylum status, an issue that directly involves the thousands of third country nationals that entered Greece from Turkey over recent years, with the center-right leader citing a simplification of procedures in order to repatriate individuals, back to Turkey, that illegally entered Greece from that country.
His comments were carried in an interview published on Thursday by the French daily "Le Figaro", hours ahead of Mistotakis' meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Asked by journalist Alexia Kefala if the situation in Greece is "out of control", Mitsotakis answered:
"The migrant crisis is a crucial issue, a European matter; it affects all of the EU and it would be a mistake to treat it as an issue of frontline countries, namely, of countries, who due to their geographical position, bear the burden of first welcome. The migrant crisis is a foundation of European solidarity and a common stance to dealing with crises," Mitsotakis said, adding:
"...during the crisis in 2015, there was insufficient European solidarity. There were countries, especially in central Europe, which said the problem only affected the countries that comprised Europe's external borders. We need European participation to guard the external borders, and I back the EU Commission's initiatives for the deployment of a European border patrol. I will insist on the need for changes to the policies of asylum and a reform of the Dublin regime... Those who have the right to asylum will, obviously, have every right to remain in Greece, while those who are not eligible for asylum must be returned to Turkey, as foreseen in the EU-Turkey agreement."