There was an escalation in the diplomatic tension over the refugee crisis on Thursday as Athens withdrew its ambassador from Vienna in retaliation for Austria limiting the number of refugees it accepts and hosting a summit with nine other European countries that did not include Greece.
Managing the growing refugee crisis domestically is becoming an even greater challenge for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greece revealed on Tuesday that it has delivered a demarche to Vienna to complain about Vienna’s attempts to coordinate its actions on the refugee crisis with countries from the so-called “Balkan corridor.”
Although the Greek government emerged relatively pleased from the European Council that ended on Friday, by Monday it was already clear that Greece will be living on the edge until the EU and Turkey sit down to discuss the refugee crisis at a special summit on March 6.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to meet with representatives of farming unions at noon on Monday to discuss their objections to the government’s plans for increases in tax and social security contributions.
The government submitted to Parliament on Friday the so-called “parallel programme” aimed mainly at easing the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable groups in Greek society.
The government is playing the long game with regard to the farmers’ protests against its tax and pension reforms in the hope that differences between the various groups as well as the need to return to the land will lead to the demonstrations fizzling out but this does not mean the coalition is not feeling the toll.
Two Golden Dawn MPs were ousted from a parliamentary committee on Wednesday after verbally abusing Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, highlighting the growing confidence that the Neo-Nazi party’s MPs seem to be feeling.
Alexis Tsipras faces a crucial few days ahead in his bid to convince Greece’s partners in the European Union that it is doing enough to tackle the refugee crisis and acting on the recommendations in a recent warning from the European Commission.
There were signs on Monday of a possible thaw in the frosty relations between the government and the farmers, whose protest against tax and pension reforms in Athens on Friday increased the tension between the two sides.