Greek and Finnish ministers discuss refugee crisis in Helsinki

Common points in the approach to handling the refugee crisis, through a European prism, were ascertained in the successive meetings the Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, had in Helsinki Friday with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo, and the Secretart General for Foreign and European Affairs.

The collocutors agreed on the need for the persecuted people to feel secure in their homeland if the unprecedented wave of refugees is to be dealt with. The European Union’s goal should thus be to involve itself systematically in the peace process in Syria and the wider Middle East region, using its strong voice to become a herald of peace.

Ensuring the rights of the refugees and all those who need international protection was common ground throughout the talks. It was highlighted that, for this reason, it is vital to effectively implement the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan, with the aim of relocation of all those eligible being carried out directly from Turkish territory.

Moreover, the collocutors agreed on the need for effective processing of persons crossing European borders in order to safeguard the security of European citizens. In fact, given that the two EU member states have long external borders – Finland with Russia, and Greece its maritime border with Turkey – there is a shared perception of the difficulties.

Of particular importance was the fact that the political leaderships of the two Finnish Ministries share Greece’s position in favor of a common European policy for handling the refugee crisis.

“During the talks, there was agreement that there cannot be national recipes for resolving the refugee crisis – only a common European policy. If this common policy is not followed, each individual approach will be fragmentary and ineffective, on the one hand, while also causing the Union to break down,” Xydakis stated following his meeting with Soini.

In the joint news briefing they held following their meeting, the two ministers stressed the common strategy the two countries need to have regarding the current refugee crisis as well as any other crises they are called upon to face.

Xydakis thanked Finland for its contribution to strengthening Frontex and for the fact that Finland is among the few European countries to have accepted refugees from Greece via the relocation mechanism.

Photo: MFA (Ministers Xydakis and Orpo)