Welcoming Greek-born EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in Athens, Tsipras said, "We now have an uphill climb, because implementation of the agreement will not be an easy task. However, if we did not have the agreement, we would have to face a domino of unilateral actions. Therefore, this European solution is important."
He stressed that for the solution to be effective, it needs immediate implementation and coordination. He said he would chair a special government body to handle the issue.
Tsipras listed two additional conditions for successful implementation of the deal: Reducing refugee flows from Turkey, and European experts coming quickly to help Greece. He added that Athens will move swiftly to pass legislation, when necessary, for better cooperation between the Greek and European asylum committees.
"Unfortunately, yesterday, there was a high number of arrivals, some 1,500," Tsipras said. "If a reduction of (refugee) flows does not occur, we will not be able to evacuate the islands successfully so that the deal can start to be implemented fully," he added.
For his part, Avramopoulos said of the deal’s implementation, "I want to believe that we are on track. It is time, however, for all member states to show that they really mean it when they talk about solidarity and responsibility. The first signs are positive." He added that the first commitments for sending means and personnel have already begun. He also said he thought quick implementation of the agreement will improve the situation and that Greece is moving rapidly.
Calling the issue of refugees a pan-European problem, Avramopoulos said it belongs to the summit level. Commenting on the continuing refugee flow, Avramopoulos said, "The flow won’t fall in a single night, but all parties have made commitments that must be followed."
According to the last official data, there are more than 50,000 refugees in Greece, with no significant letdown in the number of daily arrivals. Early Monday, the Ariadni ferry carried 582 refugees and migrants from two Eastern Aegean islands to the port of Piraeus, according to the Greek Coast Guard, where there are currently already 4,400 refugees, according to port authorities.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea to reach Greece, pressuring the cash-strapped country and also the EU’s internal open-border system, as countries to the north of Greece last month imposed frontier restrictions.
EU leaders on Friday reached an agreement with Turkey that will see the opening of a new chapter in the country’s accession process in exchange for it taking back refugees who reached Greece via Turkey.
The refugee agreement went into effect Sunday. On Monday, however, the two sides were still working out details of how the migrants will be sent back.