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“Hotspots on islets not in gov’t plan,” says Deputy Migration Minister

Building closed hotspots on islets “is not a government plan,” Alternate Migration and Asylum Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos said on Saturday, a day after local authorities on the island of Lesvos proposed the new migration center to be build on the uninhabited islet Tokmakia 5 nautical miles of the island.

He admitted that there were some suggestions from Lesvos local authorities,where the largest hotspot in Greece (Moria), “to use an island near by. But this requires large infrastructure from the very start, a foundation-level construction of the center, and will take a great amount of time. This can’t happen while we are under pressure.”

He added that “at any rate, the government has formulated its policy and will follow it. It’s a worked-through policy and we are moving ahead, with democratic strictness.”

Koumoutsakos said that “the government’s decision is moving ahead as scheduled” as of Monday, referring indirectly to a legislative act requisitioning land on the islands to build closed and controlled centers for migrants, which has raised protests from regional authorities.

“We have reached a point where Greece must face an emergency, after long talks with local communities.” The government “wants to guarantee absolute calmness and cooperation with local communities – this is our intention, but our policy will move ahead” anyway, he added.

Asked to comment about the EU’s proposed budget for the migration issue – which is part of member state negotiations talks for the new 2021-2027 EU budget under discussion – he said Greece “will wait to see the final negotiation, but what appears to be happening is that instead of the initially proposed budget of 31 billion euros, we shall get to 21 billion euros, which, still, is a much higher amount than the last budget” earmarked for the issue. [amna]

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