Greek premier Alexis Tsipras has used an official trip to the Aegean islands to recall their role as “hospitable” sanctuaries for refugees fleeing Asia Minor in 1919-1922.
Paying a visit to the island of Lemnos, he also used the opportunity on Thursday to say his administration’s “first task is security and the safeguarding of our borders and our territorial integrity”.
His comments come against a backdrop of months of tension with nearby Turkey which has seen Greek soldiers detained in a Turkish jail, repeated diplomatic spats and frequent territorial incursions by Turkish military forces.
However, Mytilene, the capital and port of the island of Lesvos, has shut down in protest at Tsipras’ visit.
Shops and local services have pulled down their shutters as professional and trade organizations prepare to stage a rally at 7 p.m. local time (1600GMT) in the center of the town.
Residents are angry at the government’s policies on migration and VAT hikes.
Watch the prime minister’s speech below (video in Greek):