No European country could have dealt with the size of the refugee flows that Greece had to deal with, Greek Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis said in an interview with Agence Europe news agency.
Asked to comment on the criticism being leveled against Greece on the delays it has experienced in the construction of the so-called hotspots, Xydakis said that four out of five identification and registration centers are fully operational and that Kos’ center will be up and running in a few weeks.
“It’s the first time that an EU country has been called to deal with such a situation and has had to implement a whole set of rules concerning reception, registration and identification of people requiring international protection,” the minister said.
“The number of people is a thousand times higher compared with last year. Which country would have been in a position to deal with such a challenge?” he said and continued: “The launch of hotspots is a mammoth task that had to be done in a very short time. Apart from the technical difficulties, there was a lack of resources.”
Asked whether other member-states should be involved more actively in the relocation process, Xydakis said Greece is expecting the involvement of more member-states, otherwise “nobody will benefit”, while he noted that half of EU member-states have not participated in the procedure.
He also said the same hold true with Frontex, which has requested for 770 experts and has so far received just 14 people.