The Commissioner in charge of immigration, CeciliaaMalmstrom, has been violently taken to task by Greek citizens on her Twitter account over comments she made on the tragic drowning of nine children and three women in the Aegean Sea on a boat carrying migrants from Turkey. Arriving in Athens, on 24 January, for a meeting with the member states' home affairs ministers,aMalmstrom deplored the loss of life in the accident, in which NGOs and the Council of Europe say the Greek authorities were pushing back the migrants, which led to their deaths.

In her relatively tardy reaction,aMalmstrom called for an "independent inquiry" into what happened and who was responsible, "including the allegations of push-backs". However, the Greek Minister of Shipping and the Aegean,aMiltiadis Varvitsiotis, has denied the NGOs' allegations, saying: "We are devastated by the loss of human life, but the fact is that our coast guards have saved more than 3,000 people. There is still a long way to go, but this accident was not a case of pushing back the migrants - which is proven by the position of the ship. It was a towing operation toward the Greek coast." The minister said the prosecutor for the region was carrying out an investigation, but that "independent authorities other than Greek justice are not involved in this type of inquiry, although we can provide information to anyone who wants it," he said. Varvitsiotis will meet Greek ministers who are requesting information on the accident. Varvitsiotis believes that the accusations come from those (including the Council of Europe) who "want to create political problems in Greece," he told the Greek press, complaining of "relentless pressure" on his country.

Meanwhile, "I have every confidence that the Greek authorities will launch an inquiry," aMalmstrom repeated, without going into further detail. Earlier on, she had defended...

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