Kotzias: Greece cannot pay the cost of others’ choices in the region

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, in his remarks concerning current political affairs, with emphasis on the migration/refugee issue, at the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Nov-6), inter alia stressed:

“Despite the ongoing financial and social constraints facing my country, our public opinion has been sympathetic to and supportive of the refugees in a manner that corresponds to our culture and values.

Our authorities have been acting with humanity, usually under strained conditions, but always respecting international law and fundamental European values.

Closing borders is not the answer to the refugee crisis.

Of course, Greece cannot pay the cost of others’ choices in the region. If the crisis is to be confronted, first-reception countries like Lebanon and Jordan have to be supported, and the stability of Egypt must be safeguarded. But the crisis will not end if a political solution is not found for the Syrian crisis and the war is not ended.

How must we proceed?

First, we have to address the problem of the migratory flows at the point of departure, before they enter the EU and Schengen area.

Second, we must implement decisions already taken on relocation in an effective and speedy manner and, at the same time, work swiftly to establish a permanent, fair burden-sharing mechanism for the allocation of the asylum seekers, on the basis of objective criteria, to all member states.

Thirdly, resettlement from Turkey and possibly from neighboring countries must start immediately.

To this end, Greece – being at the crossroads of cultures and religions and a bridge between three Continents – took the initiative to organize a Conference in Athens on Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East.

We are particularly proud of this Conference, which contributed significantly to achieving the goal I referred to; that is, raising awareness of the issue of protection of ethnic and religious communities in the Middle East through the facilitation of interfaith dialogue, civil society dialogue and academic contacts. It is our conviction that this Conference can further strengthen the moral legitimization of a global demand for eradication of those forces undermining the religious and cultural pluralism that has been present in the region for at least 2,500 years.”