- The Permanent Mission
- Greece in the UN-Geneva
MEETING OF HEADS OF MISSIONS OF THE EU DELEGATIONS WITH HUMAN RIGHTS HIGH COMMISSIONER MR ZEID, 4.6.2015
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to His Excellency the High Commissioner for being here with us today. His presence proves that the EU is above all committed to adopting a constructive approach on the issue of the human rights of migrants at sea and the honest exchange of views between the EU member states and the High Commissioner. This is an opportunity to consult with each other and explain our positions in more detail and effectively prevent any misinterpretations or parallel narratives that could only be at the expense of our mutual positive engagement.
- As we recently highlighted during your last week’s briefing ,our country believes that the OHCHR has a crucial role with respect to migration and we also support the holistic approach to the global issue of migration with inputs from relevant stakeholders such as IOM, UNHCR, ILO, ICRC. That is why we are looking forward to an enhanced interactive dialogue with their participation on this issue, as mentioned in the EU’s letter to the President of the HRC .
- That said, we reiterate the need to address the root causes of migration in the countries of origin, and protect human rights in the countries of transit, as part of a comprehensive approach, which you also admitted as necessary in your recent briefing. Indeed, we believe that EU efforts and tripling of EU resources for minimization of loss of human lives in the Mediterranean can hardly be defined as “mean-spirited”. As far as my country is concerned, the Greek Coastguard, within 2014, saved 10.782 lives in rescue operations and 2.512 lives only within the first trimester of 2015, while the UNHCR itself warned that the situation in the “Aegean Sea route” to the Greek islands from the coast of Turkey had reached crisis point. We also recently established the position of the Deputy Minister for Migration Policy and we are in the process of radical changes in migrant camps throughout the country and their replacement by “open hospitality facilities”. But those structures’ capacity for hospitality is grossly exceeded by the estimated arrivals of 800 migrants and refugees per day this summer, as our PM recently highlighted at the EU Special Summit on Migration. Hence, an effective response should balance expansion of legal immigration channels with –inter alia- the social realities in EU member states.
- Let me close by repeating our appreciation for the moral high ground the High Commissioner continues to set and by expressing himself in an independent capacity, by thanking him for his openness to listen to our thoughts over this issue which, we believe, has critical historical dimensions and should be dealt with in the framework of a long term approach as one of the greatest challenges of our times.