Alternate FM Nikos Xydakis received Finnish Minister Hanna Mäntylä

Alternate Foreign Minister of European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, on Thursday met with the Finnish Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Hanna Mäntylä, who is on a three-day visit to Athens.

During the meeting, both sides reaffirmed the need and opportunity to further tighten Greek-Finnish bilateral relations. The conversation focused on current developments and in particular on the issues of the Greek reform programme and the refugee/migration crisis.

Mr. Xydakis briefed Ms. Mäntylä on the course of the Greek programme and the Greek government’s initiatives for completing it. “After six years of harsh austerity, we are at a turning point where the differences between the European Institutions and the IMF are becoming apparent. The Greek government has presented its proposals in detail, with the aim of overcoming issues that have arisen and are creating delays in the completion of the review,” Mr. Xydakis noted. Ms. Mäntylä conveyed to Mr. Xydakis the experience and understanding of the Finnish government, which is also expected to implement difficult reforms.

Ms. Mäntylä showed particular interest in the developments in the refugee and migration issue, and especially in the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, while she noted that Europe is faced with a global crisis. In turn, Mr. Xydakis underscored that the current agreement remains fragile but is perhaps the only solution under the existing circumstances. “Europe needs Turkey and Turkey needs Europe at this difficult time of crisis and instability,” Mr. Xydakis noted.

He also stressed that the refugee issue cannot be dealt with through proposals that address only current problems. “Europe needs to shape a mid- and long-term strategy for the solution of a multidimensional issue,” Mr. Xydakis pointed out, adding that “we are facing major geopolitical turmoil, and our goal has to be to restore stability not only in the Mediterranean – with Syria and Libya at the center – but also more widely in Africa.”

The two Ministers agreed that the member states of the European Union must remain united and mutually supportive so that they can work in a common direction towards resolving the refugee crisis, with respect for the people in a dire situation. At this point, Mr. Xydakis conveyed warm thanks to the Finnish government for its contribution to solving the problem. “We do not forget that Finland is showing its solidarity not just through contributing personnel to Frontex, but also by participating in the European relocation plan, accepting refugees. This stance is a symbolic and substantial example to all of the countries of the European Union,” Mr. Xydakis stressed.

SOURCE/PHOTO: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Greece