On the margins of the Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism – The Way Forward, Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis met on 8 April 2016, at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in Geneva, with the General Secretary of the WCC, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.
Amanatidis expressed the Greek government’s warm thanks for the WCC’s cooperation and solidarity with Greece, which it has been focusing on for some time now. He requested continued support for Greece’s efforts to face an unprecedented refugee crisis.
Moreover, Amanatidis thanked the WCC for the initiative of sending an “open letter”, with the Conference of European Churches and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe – in cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) – with the basic request for “mobilization of forces to assist in the relocation of refugees,” in pursuit of substantial support for Greece on the refugee issue, and he underscored that he will convey this important news to the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. Finally, he invited Rev. Tveit to visit Greece soon.
Rev. Tveit, having welcomed Amanatidis, stressed that most of the Churches in Europe are on the “front line,” trying to raise the awareness among citizens and civil society regarding the migration/refugee crisis, which constitutes a “humanitarian crisis.”
More specifically, he did not hesitate to describe the imposition of restrictions as a kind of “collective punishment,” underscoring the need to show charity and compassion to the refugees and calling on Europe to provide greater support for and solidarity with Greece.
“Churches worldwide appear very active on the migration/refugee issue, taking on – through relevant missions – a role that is not just advisory, but also executive/operational, while they are seeking European management of the problem in terms of “burden sharing,” Rev. Tveit clarified.
Moreover, he characterized the aforementioned “open letter” as an initiative for mobilizing forces through which Churches around the world are kept abreast of developments, so that they can raise awareness and rally support in the field in question.
Concluding, Rev. Tveit stated that he was impressed by the activation of the Church of Greece, as well as by the Greek people’s generosity towards and compassion for the refugees.