- The Permanent Mission
- Greece in the UN-Geneva
Intervention of Greece to the 8th annual High Commissioner for Refugees’ Dialogue on Protection Challenges (Geneva, 16-17 December 2015)
Thank you Mr High Commissioner,
As the representative of Greece, I cannot but thank you for your advocacy especially during the testing times we are experiencing, in the face of unprecedented migratory and refugee flows around the world. At times where migrants and refugees risk becoming the scapegoats for many ills , we applaud your courage in setting the moral high ground by emphasizing that the seeds of humanitarian ideals are deeply rooted in all cultures of the world, and that the things that keep humanity together are far more than those that keep it apart. This is indeed a stance worthy of your important mandate, a meaningful message that this mandate is that of a bridge builder, and the world is in dire need of bridge builders and of people with a vision, with the ability to inspire and motivate, without merely limiting themselves to highlighting deficiencies but by calling for unity and by proposing solutions. We hope your successor will follow in these footsteps and we are ready to support him in his mandate.
We have learned a lot during these two days but Let us only highlight two of the important points raised:
First, the notion of borders was touched upon and how the Westphalian concept of territoriality may be challenged by the new realities of people in need on the move. Greece has kept its borders open for more than 800.000 of these people in need since the start of the year, while facing multiple economic and social challenges. Greeks cannot ignore the simple fact that at sea no civilized people can leave people to drown in the cold waters of the Aegean. Obviously, the thin balance between security and respect for human rights is one of the major protection challenges but safeguarding the right to life is not negotiable.
Secondly, the notion of respect for diversity and the engagement of religious and cultural leaders as a key driver for tackling the root causes of displacement. Let us not forget that in the very regions ravaged by conflict today divergent cultural and religious currents coexisted peacefully for centuries. It is our duty to use every opportunity to gather these influential cultural and religious leaders around the same table. In this respect, and keeping in mind that only through dialogue and common understanding will we achieve common solutions, the Greek MFA recently convened in Athens a very successful international conference on religious and cultural pluralism and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.