ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will prepare Tuesday to unveil a new coalition cabinet to enact economic reforms after he called on Europe to help address the nation’s unfolding migration challenge.
Fresh from returning to office after Sunday’s election win, the 41-year-old on Monday said he wanted more solidarity in handling the flow of migrants and refugees through struggling Greece.
“Europe…must share out responsibility among all member states,” Tsipras said after his taking his oath of office.
“Otherwise there is no point in talking about a united Europe… if everyone looks to one’s own yard when we have a common home, things will be ominous,” he said.
As a torrential downpour swept Athens, Tsipras took his second oath of office in eight months and said a coalition government with the nationalist Independent Greeks party — his allies in the last cabinet — would be sworn in by Wednesday morning.
Later the same day he will travel to Brussels for a summit on the refugee crisis, where he will also represent Cyprus. Some 310,000 migrants and refugees have landed on Greek shores from Turkey this year, most of them Syrians fleeing their country’s civil war.
Greece itself has been criticized for making little preparation to deal with the human wave during the summer, leaving entire families sleeping in the open with little access to medical care and sanitation.
But Tsipras said Monday that “Europe until now had not taken care to protect countries of first arrival from a wave that is taking unchecked proportions.”
France, Germany, Spain and European Council president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday pledged to help crisis-hit Greece, both on the economic front and in dealing with the worsening migrant crisis.
But EU partners too wasted no time in reminding Athens to get down to work on enforcing reforms set out in a rescue package worth up to 86 billion euros ($97 billion).
“There’s a lot of work ahead and no time to lose,” said Juncker. “As you know well, you can count on the European Commission and on me personally to stand by Greece and support the new government in its efforts.”
From buying a loaf of bread to a visit to the doctor, pain lies in store as the new government readies to raise taxes and rewrite the economic rulebook in line with tough reforms demanded by the country’s lenders in return for Greece’s third international rescue in five years.
Tsipras signed the economic to-do list in July in a controversial deal that alienated anti-euro hardliners who then quit his Syriza party, stripping the premier of his majority and triggering Sunday’s general election.
Despite this setback, Syriza secured 35.46 percent of the vote on Sunday, close to an absolute majority of 145 seats in the country’s 300-seat parliament. Coalition partner ANEL can provide another 10 lawmakers.