ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis angrily defended his government’s migration policy on Tuesday in a heated exchange with a journalist who accused him of “narcissistic abuse” at a press conference with the Dutch Prime Minister in Athens.

“Prime Minister Mitsotakis, when will you finally stop lying? Lying about refoulements, lying about what is happening with refugees in Greece? Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel asked for follow-up to the joint statements by Mitsotakis and Mark Rutte.

Beugel was referring to allegations by rights groups and organizations, including the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, that Greece is illegally pushing asylum seekers back to Turkey across its land and sea borders. , a practice that Greece denies.

“There has been overwhelming evidence and you keep denying and lying. It’s like narcissistic abuse. Why aren’t you being honest? Why don’t you say ‘Brussels left us alone, we waited six years, no one has done anything … Now I have my say and yes, I do cruel and barbaric repressions. ‘”

Mitsotakis, whose center-right New Democracy party came to power in 2019, defended his government’s migration policy, calling it “tough but fair,” and said Greece has been rescuing hundreds of people at sea since. 2015, when she was at the forefront of Europe. migration crisis.

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“I understand that in the Netherlands you have a culture of asking politicians direct questions, which I respect a lot,” he said. “What I will not accept is that in this office you insult me ​​or insult the Greek people with accusations and expressions that are not supported by material facts.”

Mitsotakis said authorities “intercepted” boats at sea in accordance with European Union regulations and granted asylum to 50,000 people, including “tens of thousands of Afghans.”

Beugel interrupted him to say the conditions were “appalling”.

Visibly angry, Mitsotakis retaliated, “Listen, you won’t enter this building and insult me. Am I very clear on this?

He said a newly built and EU funded camp on the island of Samos was “immaculate … beyond compare to what we had in the past”.

Mitsotakis added: “This is our policy, we will maintain it and I will not accept anyone who points the finger at this government and accuses it of inhuman behavior.”

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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