Greece-Germany look at migrant crisis together

30 October 2015
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The refugee crisis, bilateral relations, developments in the Balkans and Greek-Turkish relations were discussed in a meeting between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Athens on Thursday.

“The refugee issue will not be used as an excuse to violate Greek sovereignty,” Kotzias said during a press conference after the meeting, adding that to stop refugee flows towards Europe, the war in Syria has to stop.

The Greek minister also spoke of the need to identify and record refugees while still in Turkey so as to minimise risks to human life and allow their relocation around Europe. Kotzias said that Greece is burdened by massive refugee flows but takes all the necessary measures to protect them at a huge cost to its budget.

The minister also pointed out the need to coordinate and crack down on traffickers while he warned of a new wave of refugees and migrants who are ready to abandon camps in Jordan and Lebanon due to bad living conditions.

Kotzias also said the two officials discussed was to rebuild good relations and trust between the two countries to move past stereotypes and prejudices created in the last two years.

Commenting on the refugee crisis, Steinmeier said that there can be no solution to the problem without a de-escalation of hostilities in the countries of origin. He also stressed the need for a fair distribution of the refugees throughout the EU countries and, most importantly, the need for a joint European solution.

“We find that Greece recognizes its humanitarian responsibility and is acting accordingly,” he said, adding that there will be no solution to the problem if every country lays the blame on another. Steinmeier also spoke in favour of a European approach to the protection of EU’s external borders.

Concerning the creation of first accommodation centres, the German official said they are necessary, noting that on the one hand there must be a fair distribution of the burden within the EU and on the other that Europe must deal with the reasons pushing people to flee their homelands. On this note, he stressed the importance of Friday’s international meeting on the Syrian crisis, during which leaders will seek a political solution to bridge their differences on the issue. “If we achieve an agreement based on principles which Syria could implement, and have a caretaker government, this would be a great success,” he said.

Commenting on Turkey’s involvement in the refugee crisis, he said the country has a key role to play and that talks are needed to achieve some result.

Noting the importance of rebuilding bilateral relations, he also proposed the establishment at the soonest possible time of a German-Greek Youth Foundation aimed at promoting dialogue and exchanges between the youth of the two countries.

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