A delegation from the German Interior Ministry will start discussions with officials in Athens on Tuesday about Berlin’s proposals to return 3,300 migrants and refugees that were registered in the Eurodac fingerprint database in Greece but still managed to make their way to Germany. They will also discuss how some 3,500 families living in Greece with relatives in Germany will be reunited.
Meanwhile Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas has sent a letter to the mayors of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros in an attempt to reassure them that asylum seekers will not be returned from Germany to hotspots on the islands. Vitsas dismissed speculation that the government made a deal with Berlin for a suspension of planned value-added tax hikes on these islands in exchange for migrant returns.
“Scenarios that refer to the creation of new hotspots on islands in exchange for low VAT are simply lies,” he said in the letter. “The situation will remain as is. One hotspot on Lesvos, one on Chios, one on Samos, one on Kos and and one on Leros,” he explained, adding that the aim is to decongest them. Meanwhile, migrant flows to the Greek islands continue unabated, further overcrowding accommodation centers.
From June 22 up until Monday, some 1,519 migrants and refugees arrived, bringing their total number on the islands to 17,924. Of these, 7,573 are at the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, 2,212 are at the Vial center on Chios and 3,914 are on Samos.