MFA’s spokesperson, Koutras’, response to Chancellor’s spokesperson statements on the need for a “coordinated” scheme in the Aegean for confronting the refugee issue

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Koutras’ response to yesterday’s statements from a spokesperson for the Chancellor regarding the need for a “coordinated” scheme in the Aegean for confronting the refugee issue.

“We would like to remind our friends and partners in the EU and NATO that, for years now, Greece, which is at the crossroads of the refugee crisis, has been underscoring the need for “coordinated” European action with regard to the management of the refugee and migration crisis. Action that consists in, among other things, strengthening FRONTEX, revision of the inapplicable status of the Dublin II agreement, the supporting of refugee transit and reception countries, the implementation of the Greek-Turkish readmission protocol and the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement.

It has to be understood by everyone that Greece, at a huge cost, is protecting its borders, which are the external borders of Europe. It goes without saying that the strengthening of the European contribution to this demanding mission would not only be welcome, but is also vital.

This crisis is obviously an urgent European, if not global, problem, and a European problem requires a European solution. The great European challenge with regard to the refugee issues lies in the shaping of a “coordinated” state of affairs in refugees’ countries of origin, in countries the refugees transit, and, of course, in Europe, whose humanitarian ideals render imperative the reception of war refugees. Greece’s position is that we need to examine the root causes of the problem, and that the whole of the EU needs to work intensively and constructively to find a just and democratic political solution not just to the Syrian problem, but also to the Libyan issue. At the same time, the EU needs to shape a comprehensive strategy for supporting Jordan and Lebanon – countries that are also receiving huge refugee flows – as well as stability in Egypt.

In this context, the Greek government is pursuing multilevel cooperation with Turkey to optimize management of the refugee crisis and crack down on trafficking networks. But it is understood that this can be done in an organized manner only in areas such as exchange of information or readmission.

Finally, we need hardly say that Greece, which guards Europe’s borders in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, never considered assigning to its navy or armed forces in general the task of confronting refugees of war, and nor can it even discuss the novel ideas expressed lately, such as that of joint Greek-Turkish patrolling of maritime borders.

The time has arrived, at long last, to stop playing the blame game and focus on the solution.”