Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis on Wednesday raised the prospect of a migrant reception center being created in the capital in a bid to set the example for other municipalities to contribute toward solving Greece’s burgeoning problem with illegal immigration.
“Athens must set the example so that other municipalities realize that this is a problem that concerns us all and that unless the guarding of our borders is improved and immigration centers operate, with full respect for human decency, the immigration problem will not be solved,” Kaminis told Skai radio.
The mayor said that he was open to such a project, providing that Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias can allocate an appropriate spot.
Only two other municipalities, both in northern Greece, have agreed to accommodate migrant reception centers so far -- Deskati in Grevena, and Konitsa in Ioannina. But local authorities have set two conditions -- that the exact specifications of the proposed centers be determined in advance and that the facilities lead to the creation of jobs for the local community.
Municipal officials in other Attica municipalities are reportedly open to the creation of centers in their areas, particularly those with large populations of migrants.
In a related development yesterday, the ultra-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Party) issued a statement describing Kaminis as “the mayor of the illegal immigrants” after the latter banned party supporters from distributing free food -- for Greek citizens alone -- in central Syntagma Square.
The party, which went ahead with the food initiative regardless of the ban, accused the mayor of failing to stop immigrants involved in illegal street trade.
A couple of hundred people reportedly turned up at Syntagma Square to claim the free food -- potatoes, pasta, milk and olive oil -- after presenting their identity cards to party supporters to check their status as Greek citizens.