Petsas: Government committed to a fair distribution of refugees
Stelios Petsas

Petsas: Government committed to a fair distribution of refugees

Referring to the prime minister's initiative to ask banks to review hikes to banking fees, Petsas spoke of an "initial positive first step" on the part of the banks, while adding that the government expects further and bolder actions.

Fairly distributing the refugees and migrants transferred from the islands to all parts of Greece is a clear commitment made by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said on Tuesday during a press briefing, stressing that it was an issue of national importance.

The spokesperson clarified that there would be a specific limit to the number of people transferred to each area, which will not exceed 1 pct of the local population, while infrastructure and services to local communities will be reinforced to cope with the additional demands created by this emergency hospitality.

At the same time, he added, the government is proceeding with the construction of closed pre-departure centres for those who have entered the country illegally and are not entitled to asylum. "That is to say, those who are not entitled to asylum must know that they will not be allowed to move about the country freely and will have no choice but to return," he said.

Concerning the banking system, Petsas said it was beginning to recover following the massive blow it suffered as a result of the policy pursued by the previous government in the summer of 2015, when banks were closed and capital controls imposed on the country. He also referred to "bold" government initiatives, such as the Hercules Plan for reducing the banks' non-performing loans, and spoke of a growing climate of confidence concerning Greece's economy in the markets, leading to lower lending rates.

Referring to the prime minister's initiative to ask banks to review hikes to banking fees, Petsas spoke of an "initial positive first step" on the part of the banks, while adding that the government expects further and bolder actions.

He also referred to the provisions put forward by the finance ministry on Monday, which increase the protection for primary residences.

On Mitsotakis' visit to China, Petsas noted his meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping helped reaffirm the ties between the two countries, with special attention paid to bilateral cooperation in energy, transport, telecommunications, tourism, Greek agricultural products and logistics.

China's president, the spokesperson added, proposed the establishment of a Greece-China Cultural Year linked to tourism and the two leaders renewed their appointment in Athens when the Chinese President makes an official visit to Greece on November 10-12. Xi Jinping also invited Mitsotakis to pay an official visit to Beijing.

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