Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, met at the Foreign Minister earlier today [Feb-24] with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi. The meeting took place following Grandi’s meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
According to a ministry announcement, Xydakis and Grandi focused on the unprecedented refugee crisis and the actions that must be taken to confront the crisis, to the benefit not only of the people fleeing from war zones but also of the transit and reception states. They discussed the worrying developments on the Western Balkan corridor and the potential for confronting the refugee and migration crisis, which exceeds the capabilities not only of one country, but also of Europe as a whole.
“It would be of great political significance and highly symbolic if the UN Secretary General himself, Ban Ki-moon, visited the Eastern Aegean, the gateway of the refugee and migrant influx into Europe,” Xydakis stressed during the talks.
Special mention was made of the UNHCR’s providing support to the Greek authorities for managing the refugee flows. The collocutors also referred to aspects of the NATO operation, agreeing on the need to promote the processes for relocation and resettlement of refugees. Grandi highlighted that, from the moment the refugees reach European territory – that is, pass into Greek territorial waters – Greece and the European Union are bound to respect the international conventions that determine the rights of all those who need international protection.
The meeting, which took place in the context of the High Commissioner’s visit to Greece, was also attended by Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Refugee Crisis in Europe, Melissa Fleming, Head of the UNHCR Communications and Public Information Service and Spokesperson for the High Commissioner, Christian Baureder, Special Assistant to the High Commissioner, and Philippe Leclerc, the UNHCR Representative in Greece.