The UN High Commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi met with Greece’s Prime Minister on Wednesday in Athens to discuss the refugee crisis and the contributing factors including the Syrian problem.
Both men agreed that this is not a Greek issue but an international one and has to be dealt with as such and seek ways to stem the flow of refugees and resolve the conflict in Syria.
The Greek PM Tsipras highlighted Greece’s humane response and humanitarian efforts in response to the refugee crisis, despite the limited resources and strain on its own economy, a fact that has been acknowledged worldwide. Tsipras thoughts insist the refugee issue require a considered and holistic international response.
“It is an international issue and I believe that despite the difficulties, we managed to show Europe’s humane face. However, the most important thing in my view is to try and find a permanent solution in Syria,” said the Greek PM, adding that the latest developments are not so promising.
According to a press release by the Prime Minister’s office, the Greek premier also said that authorities have become more effective despite the difficulties facing the country and hailed the role of the UNHCR without whose help “it would have been very difficult to overcome the problems.”
The UNHCR chief, who is on a three-day tour of refugee centres in the country, thanked Greece and its government for the humanism and effectiveness with which it handled the crisis, saying the international mood is souring towards refugees.
“I believe we can show to the rest of Europe that this is possible and it doesn’t lead to disaster,” he said, referring to welcoming refugees.
“Winter is coming, we have to organise. As I said the last time, we are really here to help you. It’s complicated, but I have the belief that things are in the right path,” he said.
Whilst both Tsipras and the UN High Commissioner agreed on closer co-operation on the management of the refugee issue, they also acknowledged the important role Turkey has to play in the region with the agreed relocation of refugees from Greece to Turkey.
Recent announcements by Turkish government officials including President Erdogan himself have not assured Europeans that the refugee relocation agreement will be honoured by Turkey.