Tsipras to stress refugee crisis is European problem in Valletta Summit meeting

11 November 2015
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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will reiterate his position that the refugee crisis must be seen as a joint European problem and not as one that concerns only the country of entry when he attends the Valletta Summit on Wednesday and Thursday which will focus on action for migration. The summit will be followed by an informal summit of the EU member-states on Thursday.

The Greek government has two aims in the summit: to make clear that the issue of refugee and migrant flows concerns the EU as a whole and not just first reception countries – such as Greece – and that a comprehensive policy must be found to tackle trafficking rings. The government will also reiterate that refugee and migrant flows are caused by poverty in the countries of origin and regional crises and any effort to deal with the problem must focus on these causes. The issue is primarily humanitarian and as such must be dealt with at an international level.

During the informal summit, which will be attended by Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans who will have returned from a trip to Turkey, Greece will also have the opportunity to present its proposals on the issue ahead of Tsipras’ visit to the neighbouring country. Tsipras has repeatedly said he wants Greece to play a central role in the EU’s negotiations with Turkey on the refugee issue, a view he stressed in today’s meeting.

The Greek government wants to transfer the process of refugee identification and resettlement in Turkey to “stop the daily risk and drama of lives lost in the Aegean”, as the prime minister recently said. It will also propose providing help to Turkey to guard its borders.
In this trip, Tsipras will be accompanied by Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas and Alternate Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis. On the sidelines of the summit, the prime minister will meet with the President of Switzerland, Simonetta Sommaruga, with whom he will discuss economic and tax issues.

The Valletta summit on migration is expected to recognize that immigration constitutes a shared responsibility of the countries of origin, transit and destination. The main topics of the agenda will be: 1) Tackling the root causes by promoting peace, stability and economic development. 2) Better promotion and organization of legal migration channels. 3) Strengthening the protection of migrants and asylum seekers, especially vulnerable groups. 4) More effective tackling of exploitation and migrant smuggling. 5) Closer and better cooperation on return and readmission of migrants.

The main topics which will be covered at the informal meeting of EU states on Thursday will be: Cooperation with third countries, including Turkey, the implementation of decisions on relocation, the creation of hotspots in Greece and Italy along with the strengthening of reception capacity, providing FRONTEX and EASO the required expertise, and effectively strengthening control of EU’s external borders.

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