STATEMENTS OF THE GREEK PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS ON MIGRATION AFTER THE EU SUMMIT

Andrea Bonetti

After the conclusion of the European Union Summit on 28-29 of June in Brussels, where the migration-refugee issue was one of the major issues discussed, the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras referred to the decisions taken. He clarified that Greece is in line with the forces that pursue a single and cohesive European solution based on the Humanitarian and Solidarity principles, while he announced the successful outcome of the request made by the Greek government for the maintenance of reduced VAT on the five Greek islands (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos, Leros), that bear the main burden of the refugee-migration flows.

Main points of the statements made by the Prime Minister after the conclusion of the EU Summit’s works.

· “The EU is deeply divided between two perceptions. One, extremely conservative, chauvinistic, against migration and one, which I would characterize, more democratic, a humanistic approach. (…) There was a controversy between the forces that want a collective European solution based on joint responsibility and solidarity on the refugee-migration issue and those forces that choose to move on the basis of entrenchment and of unilateral actions”

· “The danger that was avoided, regarded the issue of the primary flows, namely, in Central Mediterranean; the danger to have a decision that would clearly state that the return to Africa will occur through closed centers and each person, irrespective of whether he/she is or isn’t in need of international protection will return to Africa”.

· “My position and stance, by also expressing my experience from Greece, is that something like that would be completely beyond the framework of international law, as one cannot imprison people who might have the right to international protection”.

· “A compromising formula was found which refers to controlled centers, that are not prisons, but doesn’t give the possibility to those waiting for asylum, while their application is examined, to leave and continue their travel. It will be controlled hospitality structures. Something equivalent to what is happening on the Greek islands”.

“A front of logic should be created for the coordinated, collective management of the migration crisis within a framework of principles and values”

· “On our part, it was stressed that the European approach for the management of the migration and refugee flows must be comprehensive, it should not only concern the relations with third countries, the border management, but also the internal dimension- that must be based upon our values”.

· “It was mentioned, after our intervention, the importance of the effective cooperation with Turkey, in the framework of the EU-Turkey Statement. Turkey must implement the bilateral readmission agreement with Greece-which it has suspended – and the EU-Turkey Agreement”.

· “The forces that do not desire European solutions set certain limits to our cooperation at the level of the 28. The rest of us decided to proceed and cooperate in order to secure the management of flows in terms that protect the Schengen Agreement”.

· “It was agreed that the Common European System of Asylum and the Dublin’s Regulation should be revised on the basis of responsibility and solidarity. It was decided to empower the collaboration with the African countries, placing emphasis on the root causes of migration” μετάφραση tweet

· “(…) it was decided that the European Commission should initiate the procedures for the establishment of a comprehensive European return policy – each country should not have its own – for those who are not in need of or those who do not have the right to international protection and asylum, to their countries of origin or third countries. Because the returns of migrants cannot be viewed as an issue of the frontline countries alon, but it must be regarded as an overall European issue”.

The agreement with Germany –Spain

· “Along with Germany and Spain, Greece has proceeded to a politically binding agreement in order for a front of logic to be created for a coordinated, collective management of the migration crisis in a framework of principles”

· “In case a new crisis occurs, Germany and Spain are committed to undertake or support emergency European initiatives for Greece, based on the principles of solidarity and of the fair burden distribution. At present, the migration phenomenon is not intense. Finally, Germany and Spain committed themselves to support initiatives by the European Commission for the immediate economic support and relief of the five islands and their residents. Namely, of the five islands of Eastern Aegean that are burdened by the migration crisis and are at the frontline of reception”.

The suspension of VAT on the five Greek islands

· “We will immediate proceed with a legislative act, for the maintenance of the reduced VAT on the five islands that receive the largest volume of the migration flows”. μετάφραση tweet

· “I believe that it was a fair choice, that mainly has become an action, and I wish to underline it, thanks to President Juncker’s understanding, who is very well informed of the conditions on the five islands and of the immense effort our islanders have made. I believe this is also a tremendously positive development”.

· The values of solidarity, joint responsibility and humanism constitute – and must continue to do so – the cornerstone of Europe. Press Conference after the conclusion of the works of the European Council. μετάφραση tweet