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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-03

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Tsipras: 'The situation is difficult but manageable'
  • [02] IMF team to return to Athens 'soon' says spokesman

  • [01] Tsipras: 'The situation is difficult but manageable'

    Greece cannot accept or tolerate the failure to implement the decisions of the last European Council on refugees, or the fact that the countries along the so-called "Balkan route" acted unilaterally and in concert with countries outside the EU, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told a cabinet meeting held to discuss the refugee crisis on Thursday.

    The situation in Greece with respect to the refugees was "difficult but manageable," Tsipras said during the meeting, which focused on the positions that Greece will adopted at the upcoming EU-Turkey summit on Monday. At the same time, he noted the need for immediate action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. Referring to the Greece-Turkey High-level Cooperation Council taking place in Izmir on Tuesday, the prime minister said Greece's aim was an active intervention and noted that Greece plays a key role in Turkey's relations with Europe, while European leaders consider that Greece has an important role in EU-Turkish relations.

    According to government sources, Tsipras said the main problems were how to restrict the flow of refugees to the northern border and the lack of any restriction of flows in Turkey. On management within Greece, the prime minister said that the relevant services were steadily setting up the required hospitality facilities but called for political initiatives on the level of Greece, the EU and Turkey to prevent things getting any worse.

    The core Greek positions at the summit will be the same as those outlined in joint statements with European Council President Donald Tusk earlier on Thursday, Tsipras said. These will be based on the following lines:

    In its handling of the refugees, Greece will meet its obligations to the EU but chiefly to the refugees themselves, based on their humanitarian needs. This means that Greece will create the maximum possible places for temporary shelter but will not become a "warehouse" for people and will cite the founding treaties and EU law that imposes a proportional distribution of the burdens and responsibilities. On no account will the permanent hospitality positions exceed one fiftieth of total flows, Tsipras said, noting that this was the share that fell to Greece based on its population and economic capability.

    Greece will demand an immediate reinforcement and acceleration of processes for refugee relocation from Greece and resettlement from Turkey, Tsipras said, noting that there must be a specific reference in the Council conclusions that describes the relevant processes clearly.

    The prime minister also cited a need to speed up processes for granting all types of financial assistance to cope with the refugee crisis and referred to Turkey's role, saying it must implement the EU-Turkey agreement in order to stop migration flows and illegal trafficking. Another immediate goal, Tsipras added, was to strengthen and make clearer the process for the readmission of migrants that had no right to asylum.

    Referring to the handling of the refugee situation on the domestic front, the prime minister said there had been fast operational and organisational results and noted that coordination between the ministries was satisfactory, with Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas acting as coordinator of the government's management team.

    The prime minister also stressed the need to keep Greek society on board, maintaining its willingness to support refugees, and the need to create a global movement with the same aim, with the help of international personalities and celebrities.

    "It is crucial that we have local communities on our side and equally crucial to maintain Greek society's willingness to support the refugees. Either humanity or the far-right will prevail," Tsipras concluded, while noting that Greece had greatly benefited from the interventions on this issue of international figures, such as the Pope, the UN Secretary-General, and a number of intellectuals and artists throughout the world.

    [02] IMF team to return to Athens 'soon' says spokesman

    The technical mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will soon return to Athens, its spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday during a regular press briefing, noting that good progress was made during the institutions' dinner on Wednesday evening in Brussels.

    "We expect an early return of the mission," he was quoted as saying, adding that the exact time will be announced after the Eurogroup next Monday. "We share the opinion that the review must be completed as soon as possible," he said.

    Rice also confirmed that during the institutions' dinner participants, who included Poul Thomsen, Director of the IMF's European Department, discussed the Greek program. The IMF maintains that additional measures worth 4-5 pct of GDP are needed to cover the fiscal gap until 2018, he said.

    Asked to comment on criticism that the Fund is harsh with Greece, he said: "Our job is to be objective and realistic. We are called to do the work that we have been commissioned to do for our members."

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