Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras telephoned Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Sunday evening and expressed his condolences for the hundreds of migrants and refugees feared dead after the latest sinking of a vessel carrying migrants south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Tsipras also expressed support for Renzi’s proposal to hold an urgent meeting of European leaders to discuss the migration problem.
Feverish deliberations were underway on Sunday between the European Commission and EU member-states in the wake of the tragic disaster in the Mediterranean, with up to 700 irregular migrants feared drowned in their attempt to reach Europe.
The issue will be discussed during Monday’s meeting in Athens between Tsipras and Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis in an effort to create Greece’s own roadmap on migration policy and present it to its EU partners.
According to Greek media, Tsipras is also working closely with his aides and government officials while Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Malta have raised similar concerns.
An urgent meeting of EU Foreign and Interior Ministers is planned in the next few days to decide on a new framework for dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the region that is responsible for the waves of migrants and refugees.
Greek government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis repeated on Sunday a call for action on a European level to deal with the waves of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
“The new sacrifice of refugees off Lampedusa shocks us all. The Mediterranean, from a seaway of cultures is converted to a watery grave for thousands of souls attempting to flee the flames of war,” Sakellaridis said in a written statement.
“In these crucial hours, when along with the lives we risk also losing our humanity, action is demanded and not fine words. The European Union has an obligation to immediately undertake its responsibilities toward – chiefly – the waves of desperate refugees but also the European countries of the Mediterranean that receive them,” the spokesman added.
Sakellaridis also attacked opposition parties over their stance on the issue, saying the latest tragedy “irreparably exposed” the fallacy of their claims that the Greek government was somehow responsible for the wave of refugees.
“The refugees issue is an international humanitarian issue that cannot be resolved by shouting. Let us set aside populism and demagoguery. We are talking about human lives,” Sakellaridis said.
Hundreds are feared dead after a boat carrying roughly 700 people capsized south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.