Dutch Ministers visit Farmakonisi, Chios and Agathonisi islands

The Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos, accompanied by the Chief of HAGS Lieutenant General Vasileios Tellidis, the Netherlands’ Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and the Netherlands’ Minister for Immigration Klaas Dijkhoff, in the context of their official visit to Greece, visited the islands of Farmakonisi, Chios and Agathonisi.

On Chios, they visited the refugees’ reception and screening centre, on Farmakonisi they attended a briefing by the head officer of the outpost and on Agathonisi they met with local government authorities.

“I wish to thank the Minister for Immigration and the Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, with whom today, and together with the Chief of Hellenic Army General Staff, we visited Chios, as well as other islands of the Aegean Sea, so that they will be able to form their personal opinions about what exactly is happening.

Greece has responded and is responding to its commitment to create hot spots. It is important that Europe accepted that Turkey should be obliged to apply the international regulations and that registration should be conducted on the other side of the Aegean Sea, so that there will not be any human victims.

The Netherlands will assume the Presidency of the European Union. What we asked for was reinforcement, firstly regarding the capabilities of registering refugees in computers for the registration, and personnel that will help, because the forces of the Hellenic Police and Coast Guard have really been exhausted.

On my part, what I asked for was the Netherlands, after assuming the Presidency, to help the personnel of the Armed Forces and Security Corps in particular, because, with the financial measures and the financial crisis, their salaries have been reduced by 35-50%. We cannot, therefore, on the one hand, ask these people to work 12 and 20 hours per day under the circumstances that they work and, at the same time, let their salaries be less than the 30% of the salaries earned by their colleagues in the European Union.

On behalf of the Ministry of National Defence, we have made it clear that the services of “Didergon” (Joint Command for the Construction of Works), if needed, will help to construct installations quickly. I believe that, as far as immigration is concerned, we are at the beginning of a new era, after the last decision of the Council of the European Union.”

Netherlands’ Minister for Immigration Klaas Dijkhoff stated the following:

“Europe, as a continent, is facing this huge influx of refugees and other migrants. I think it is good to see the progress in the reception centre that you are building up here and the screening, because it very important for everyone in Europe to know as quickly as possible who is here, who is trying to enter, who has the right and especially also who doesn’t have the right and we will continue to support Greece in this joint effort to improve the registration process and make even more steps than have already been made.”

On Agathonisi island, the Mayor Evangelos Kottoros stressed:

“This is the first time that European Ministers, together with the Greek Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos, visit Agathonisi.

I am very satisfied because European Ministers see, in fact, the insularity of Greece and, particularly at this period, when the immigration issue torments us. Europeans should finally see it.

The Minister of National Defence said the following:

“I wish to stress and something else that Mr. Mayor also told the Ministers and, particularly, the Minister for Immigration of the Netherlands that will assume the Presidency of the European Union. 30 thousand immigrants and refugees have passed by Agathonisi. Agathonisi has not received even one euro so far from the European Union. However, immigrants and refugees are welcome on Agathonisi by the Mayor and all its residents. But it is time for the European Union, through an immigration policy, to see to these islands and their residents.

The Mayor explained that the European funds are not enough for him to hire even two employees to clean the coasts of Agathonisi from the life boats and life buoys. I think that this visit changes everything and via a new policy that we follow, the registration in Turkey, it is time for islands, like Agathonisi, to be able to benefit from their participation in the European Union.”

Photo: Greek MOD