We will not bow to pressures to legalise migrants, interior minister insists

Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis once again repeated on Monday that the government would not bow to pressures to legalise migrants, at the same time revealing that the previous government had set an unfortunate precedent by yielding to a similar demand roughly two years earlier.

Speaking to the radio station "Vima", Ragoussis said that the occupation of the Athens university law school building by upward of 200 illegal migrants may have been partly prompted by the experience of 15 Moroccans in early 2009, who had finally been granted legal residence status by the then New Democracy government after they started to develop health problems due to a hunger strike. He noted that this group also had set out from Hania in Crete to come to Athens.

Ragoussis underlined that the present government would not budge from its position and that it had shown its determination through its handling of the occupation of the law school building.

"The occupation ended without us backing down even one iota," he said, stressing that the government would adopt the same tough stance in the future.

Regarding university authorities and their handling of the occupation, the minister said this was initially mistaken but later corrected, adding that he would wait for the decisions made by justice concerning the case. A public prosecutor issued a summons for Athens University rector Theodosis Pelegrinis to testify concerning his handling of the affair earlier on Monday.

Ragoussis underlined that the prosecutor's inquiry had to be followed through to the end and that the affair should not be allowed to simply end with impunity because the worst had been avoided.

"It is not like that. Responsibilities must be attributed because, I say again, Greek society, the country as a whole, does not have the margins to cope with such unexpected dangers. There were specific inciters, organisers that must be held responsible at all costs by the public prosecutor," he underlined.

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