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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece's political leaders conclude meeting on refugee/migration crisis
  • [02] PM Tsipras to Bild: There are 30,000 refugees in Greece; we can accept another 20,000
  • [03] Refugee crisis 'neither Greek nor Turkish,' Kotzias and Cavusoglu agree in Athens

  • [01] Greece's political leaders conclude meeting on refugee/migration crisis

    Greece's political party leaders concluded a meeting on the refugee and migration crisis late on Friday. A joint statement issued after the leaders' council, chaired by Hellenic Republic President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, was backed by all the parties except the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Union of Centrists.

    Government sources said there had been full agreement with the government's positions and plan for the refugee and migration crisis at the meeting. They attributed the delay in drafting the joint statement to the PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata's insistence that it include a reference reflecting her view that this could only be achieved by a national consensus government of all pro-European forces. According to the same sources, this was opposed by the other political leaders, who refused to sign if this was included.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the meeting had resulted in a "minimum acceptable framework" on what Greece will strive to achieve at the EU-Turkey summit on Monday but also expressed "reservations" about the government's ability to handle the crisis.

    He said ND had strongly criticised the government's strategy on this issue up to this point while adding that, "albeit with some delay, it is finally adjusting its strategy to realism".

    In statements as he left the meeting, Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis said the political leaders had agreed on the need for solidarity with the refugees but also that irregular migrants must return home and that the security of the Greek islands must be protected. He said that the prime minister did not receive the opposition's backing for use of Greece's veto but also that he did not want to use it.

    KKE's leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas had walked out of the meeting early, while Union of Centrists' leader Vassilis Leventis finally refused to back the joint statement, calling the meeting a "fiasco".

    [02] PM Tsipras to Bild: There are 30,000 refugees in Greece; we can accept another 20,000

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti) - Countries that violate agreements of the European Union and close their borders are "destroying Europe", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with German newspaper Bild published on Friday, adding that there are 30,000 refugees in the country.

    In the interview titled "Tsipras condemns the closing of the borders", the prime minister asked for a fair distribution of refugees saying that Greece has fulfilled more than 100 pct of its obligations. He also said the situation is difficult but not out of control and that the country can handle another 30,000.

    "We cannot become a warehouse of souls who don't want to be here," he was quoted as saying, adding that he believed Europe will not abandon Greece because it is defending its fundamental principles.

    "That which some countries have agreed and decided to do, which is contrary to all the rules, all over Europe, we consider it as a non-friendly action! You cannot agree one thing at a European Union summit and afterwards for some to meet and just decide to close the border. These countries are destroying Europe!" he said, stressing that he considers the refugee crisis as an "existential crisis" for the EU.

    [03] Refugee crisis 'neither Greek nor Turkish,' Kotzias and Cavusoglu agree in Athens

    The refugee and migrant crisis is a global problem that concerns all of Europe, not just Greece or Turkey, Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Friday in joint statements with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, following their meeting in Athens.

    "We agreed that the refugee issue is not a Greek or Turkish issue, nor can it be confined to relations between Greece and Turkey," Kotzias said. The Greek minister said that they had also discussed the agreement for NATO's involvement in tackling the refugee and migrant issue.

    Kotzias said that Greece was in favour of building up relations with Turkey "often through difficulties," on the basis of good neighbourship and international law. To the degree that they were able to resolve these problems, Greece and Turkey could be a powerful stabilising factor in the region, he added.

    The Greek minister also repeated Greece's desire for a solution to the Cyprus problem that reflects the hopes, longings and prospects of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities, noting that such a solution would also help improve relations between Greece and Turkey.

    Cavusoglu agreed that the migration crisis was "neither Turkish nor Greek," adding that ways must be found to handle the massive flows and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

    Both ministers agreed that the solution was to strike the problem at its root by stopping the warn in Syria and the problems in Iraq and Libya.

    Cavusoglu also noted that Greece and Turkey needed to further develop the existing cooperation framework relating to rescue operations, in order to make it more effective, and pointed to recent changes in Turkish law concerning readmission agreements, saying that 99 pct of the 800 readmission agreements submitted by Greece had been approved.

    In talks involving delegations, the two sides also examined bilateral agreements designed to encourage investments in both countries, ahead of the high-level Greek-Turkish cooperation council in Izmir next Tuesday. They especially referred to plans for a high-speed rail link between Istanbul, Thessaloniki and the Greek port city of Igoumenitsa, ferry links with Izmir and planned gas pipelines, such as the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and linking pipelines.

    Asked about air space violations in the Aegean, Cavusoglu said there were legal differences between Greece and Turkey but at the same time noted that "humanitarian issues should not be mixed up with politics," and that territorial disputes should not take precedence over problems involving rescue missions.

    "The exploratory talks are held to overcome the problems," Kotzias replied, while stressing the need "to systematically tackle the networks of traffickers and criminals that have a turnover of six billion euros."


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