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Alternate FM Xydakis’ remarks to the EU General Affairs Council (Brussels, 16 February 2016)
The Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, participated in today’s meeting of the EU General Affairs Council, in Brussels. The meeting looked at preparations for the European Council summit meeting taking place this Thursday and Friday, 18 and 19 February, focusing on management of the refugee and migration crisis.
Mr. Xydakis presented Greece’s positions to his European colleagues, stressing that the refugee crisis has now taken on existential dimensions for the EU itself.
“The refugee and migration flows on the Mediterranean corridors, as well as the wider geopolitical turmoil, have led us inevitably to think in different terms. We need to realize that the larger part of Europe’s borders are maritime borders. Our goal must be to control them better, and not to go back 60 years by closing them,” Mr. Xydakis said in his statement.
“It seems that, with regard to the Schengen Treaty, there are some partners who want to activate article 26 and are criticizing us harshly – perhaps justifiably in some cases. But who are our critics? Partners who have not sent a single blanket for the refugees? Fourteen European countries have yet to respond to the requests for relocation, and if I’m not mistaken, the Union has 28 members,” Mr. Xydakis continued, concluding that “at this critical time, when European solidarity is being tested, everyone needs to contribute rather than criticize.”
The meeting concluded with a number of participating Foreign Ministers expressing the need for effective implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, while positive reference was made to our country’s progress in meeting its commitments with regard to the refugee crisis