From: Alice Taylor
Dutch PM to Visit Albania After Heated Debate on Migration in Greece

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is visiting Albania today, where he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Edi Rama to discuss matters including EU accession and integration.

On the agenda for the day is a meeting between the two counterparts, followed by one between the two countries delegations. Rama and Rutte will then give a press conference at 12:30. 

Additionally, the two prime ministers will visit the Pyramid, which is currently developing to be turned from a monument to communist dictator Enver Hoxha, to an IT centre.

Rutte was in Greece yesterday, where he met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitostakis. The following press conference was marked by a heated exchange between Mitostakis and Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel.

On the topic of migration, Beugel asked Mitostakis to “stop lying about pushbacks” at Greece’s borders.

“Do not insult my intelligence or the intelligence of all the journalists in the world. There has been overwhelming evidence [about pushback], and you keep denying and lying. This is narcissistic abuse,” the journalist said, as reported by Exit’s partner EURACTIV.

“Why aren’t you being honest? Why don’t you just say, ‘Brussels left us alone, we waited for six years, and nobody did anything to relocate refugees, and, yes, I am now doing harsh, brutal pushbacks”? the Dutch journalist asked.

The Greek Prime Minister shot back by criticizing her tone and “insulting me or the Greek people”. He continued by saying her “accusations” were “not supported by facts” and denying any allegation of illegal pushbacks.

Interview with a Trafficker: How Migrants are Moved Through Albania and Towards the EU

Various international organizations and journalists have well-documented pushbacks of migrants at Greece’s borders. Frontex, the EU border guard agency that guards Albania’s borders with the EU, has been accused of pushing migrants, sometimes violently, back across the border.

Exit was able to confirm an eyewitness account of this happening and second-hand accounts from those involved in smuggling migrants from Greece to Albania.

Frontex has denied it engages in pushbacks and, following an internal investigation, absolved itself of responsibility in most cases and left some cases pending. This prompted transparency groups to criticize them, alleging they did not handle the investigation properly and were unwilling to hold themselves accountable.

Exclusive: How Albanian, Moroccan, and Kurdish Gangs Move Migrants Through Albania

In a resolution last month, EU lawmakers asked for part of the Frontex 2022 budget to be frozen and only made available once the agency has fulfilled several specific conditions.

Meanwhile, Rutte failed to answer the journalist’s question on why his government has opposed the will of municipalities to accept refugees and unaccompanied minors. He also defended the Greek prime minister, saying Greece is just trying to protect its border in an “extremely difficult” situation.