Greece’s coalition government seems to be pleased with the appointment of Dimitris Avramopoulos. As a commissioner of migration, it is considered a sign of trust toward Athens. The opposition though, thinks that Greece just received a “hot potato”.
Jean-Claude Juncker announced yesterday (10 September) the appointment of Greece’s defence minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, as Commissioner of Migration and Home Affairs.
A career diplomat and a former foreign minister, Avramopoulos was the third candidate for the leadership of the New Democracy party in 2009. He withdrew his candidacy at the very last moment, expressing full support for the Greek PM Samaras, who was elected ahead of Ntora Bakoyannis to lead the centre-right party currently in power in Athens.
A sign of trust
The centre-right Greek PM, Antonis Samaras, seemed to be quite satisfied with the migration portfolio.
The decision of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is an “exceptional honour for Greece, and an important sign of the trust in our country”, Samaras proclaimed.
He referred to Juncker as a “friend”, adding “This is a completely new portfolio that was created from scratch in order to underline the need to prioritize migration in European politics. The recognition of the need to combat the illegal migration has always been a priority for the Greek government.”
“This portfolio is a reward of a long and painstaking effort to take European action in order to effectively tackle the problem.”
The Greek PM was also pleased with the appointment of Margaritis Schinas as new EU executive’s spokesman, calling him “worthy and experienced”.
Schinas, former MEP of centre-right New Democracy, has been head of Task Force in Greece since May 2013. In 2010, he also served as Deputy Director of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers of Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
Migration is “hot potato”
On Thursday (11 September), Syriza MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis criticised the composition of the new EU executive, saying that despite having greater political character than Barroso’s “colourless” one, the new commission will continue on the path of its predecessor.
He noted that the difference in this Commission is Juncker’s “pyramid”.
“Instead of having 28 equal commissioners, [Juncker] decided to appoint seven first category vice-presidents to monitor the rest second category commissioners,” he told Greek radio station Alpha.
Regarding migration portfolio, Papadimoulis stated that Avramopoulos must realise that he just took in his hands a “hot potato”.
“This post is indeed important and interesting. But Avramopoulos will have a head [to monitor him] Ms Mogherini,” he said, adding that the Greek commissioner will not have “full responsibility”.