Tension is mounting on the Greek islands, where closed detention centers are set to be created after months of deliberation and rounds of discussions with the mayors of the islands and the local communities.
The background of the tension stems from the amount of distrust that the local island communities on Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros have towards the government regarding the new closed detention centers, which will be the only facilities left on the islands.
The existing concentration camps at “Moria, Kara Tepe, VIAL, and Vathy will all be shut down”, according to Greece’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis.
An islander himself, Mitarakis is the only MP from the ruling New Democracy party on the island of Chios.
He said he sees the situation as a personal challenge, which prompted the Mitsotakis government to place him in charge of the Ministry due to his intimate knowledge of the islands and their inhabitants.
Since his appointment, however, the communication lines between Mitarakis’ office and the local population seem to have broken down.
The regional governor of the North Aegean, Kostas Moutzouris, has insisted that the government should not proceed with its plans as there is growing and widespread public outrage on the islands.
Most of the mayors on the islands are now aligning themselves with Moutzouris, who, however, has called for a peaceful de-escalation of the current tension.
Sending SWAT members to the islands was not an easy decision for the Mitsotakis government, who are it would be seen as a provocation against the local citizens.
Up to this point, however the police force has remained calm, mainly focusing on protecting the bulldozers, which began their work on February 25.
Despite the presence of a larger police presence, tensions and clashes with the islanders are taking place around the clock, with many inhabitants of Lesbos and Chios accusing the police of abusing their power.
This has prompted an MP from Chios from the left-wing opposition SYRIZA party to accuse the police of “bullying” and having intentionally “broken his glasses” when they were breaking up the protests.
The EU action plan by the Greek government includes five closed detention centres on the five aforementioned islands where newly-arrived illegal immigrants who are up for deportation will be hosted.
The Greek government is looking to Brussels for more assistance. The Greek-born Vice-President of the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, is preparing a new asylum pact that will most likely be signed during the German Presidency of the EU in June.
New Europe / ABC Flash Point News 2020.