Greece says European Union aid means it can shelter 20,000 more migrants
Greece, mired in a multi-year economic crisis, made clear its readiness to provide shelter for more refugees was strictly conditional .
Athens: Greece said on Monday the European Union had offered to pay the costs of accommodating 20,000 more migrants in temporary camps on its islands as the bloc struggles to improve its management of the flow of refugees across Europe.
More than half a million migrants have transited through Greece so far this year, many fleeing Syria's civil war on a short but perilous crossing from Turkey on inflatable rubber boats. Once they get ashore, they move on to destinations in wealthier western and northern Europe, especially Germany.
Greece, mired in a multi-year economic crisis, made clear its readiness to provide shelter for more refugees was strictly conditional on the EU financial aid and on the understanding that those offered shelter would later be relocated.
"What we did manage to extract (from EU partners) was that this would be financed by the European Union, something that was not the case until now. Their (the new camps') creation will depend on financing," Migration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas told Skai radio.
Asked if it were possible to have the facilities set up by the end of this year, he said: "If the financing is available it is, if financing is not available it won't be."
EU leaders agreed on Sunday at a mini-summit in Brussels to cooperate in managing migrant flows through Greece and the Balkans to help ease a crisis that threatens to set European states against one another.
The EU's new 17-point action plan includes United Nations-aided accommodation for 100,000 people, half of them in Greece.