In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Greek migration minister Yannis Mouzalas has rejected accusations by Germany and other European countries that Greece is failing to defend its borders against mass migration, insisting that the refugees and other migrants trekking to Europe constitute a humanitarian crisis, not a defense threat. 

At the European migration summit in Brussels on Sunday, Greece and other countries on the migration route through the Balkans, faced allegations that they are passively allowing migrants to pass through. “In practice what lies behind the accusation is the desire to repel the migrants,” said Mouzalas. “Our job when they are in our territorial sea is to rescue them, not [let them] drown or repel them.”

More than half a million people arrived in Europe this year, with the largest number reaching Europe via Turkey and Greece, while last week alone, Greece received about 48,000 migrants and refugees on its shores. Mouzalas argues that Turkey should have been invited to Sunday’s summit, since Turkey is the door though which refugees enter the EU, adding that the EU should give Turkey the necessary funds and incentives to help with a resettlement plan.

According to Mouzalas, resettlement of the refugees throughout EU countries is the appropriate solution, but Europe is responding slowly to the problem”. Last month, EU governments approved the redistribution of 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc, but so far, only 105 refugees have been relocated. Greece has spent €1.5 billion ($1.65 billion) on the migration crisis during the past 18 month and it is already operating a reception center in Lesvos, where half of the migrants who enter Greece first land. Another four centers are expected to be ready on other islands by early December.