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Alternate FM Xydakis’ meetings in Portugal (Lisbon, 8 March 2016)

Wednesday, 09 March 2016

The Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Nikos Xydakis, traveled to Portugal on Tuesday to hold a number of meetings within the framework of the European tour he has been carrying out in recent weeks, with the aim of briefing his European counterparts on matters of common European interest, including the refugee crisis.

Mr. Xydakis began his Lisbon meetings in the morning, with Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs Margarida Marques. In their conversation, which took place in a very warm climate, they found common ground and agreed on a number of issues, highlighting the risks the EU is running from the erosive policy of certain member states and the austerity policy that is being followed. Ms. Marques made special reference to the economy, insisting on the need for economic policy not to be determined by technocrats.

Mr. Xydakis thanked the Portuguese government and Prime Minister António Costa, on behalf of the Greek government, for offering to receive 6,000 refugees from Greece, in addition to the numbers provided for by the European relocation mechanism, and he repeated this expression of gratitude to the Portuguese people in two interviews with Portuguese news media. Ms. Marques explained that Portugal has repeatedly benefited from the integration of refugees and migrants.

Mr. Xydakis then held meetings with Interior Minister Constança Urbano de Sousa and a delegation from Bloco de Esquerda, and he also participated in a meeting of the Portuguese Parliament’s European Affairs Committee, chaired by Ms. Regina Bastos, an MP for the main opposition party (PSD).

During his speech to the European Affairs Committee, Mr. Xydakis briefed the Portuguese MPs on the recent developments in the refugee crisis and on Greece’s positions, also responding to a number of questions. The Committee members’ great interest in Greece’s positions was confirmed by the participation of all Committee members in the day’s proceedings.

In the detailed discussion that followed, Mr. Xydakis once again stressed the need for the European Union to take an active role in and initiatives for peace-making in Syria and the wider Middle East region. He also noted that the Union’s humanitarian and political traditions increase its responsibility to the refugees, while he insisted on the need to eradicate the major trafficking rings that are cashing in on putting thousands of people in danger.

Mr. Xydakis highlighted that Greece has met the obligations it has undertaken to its partners, throught the creation of the hotspots and thorough registration of the refugees and migrants that cross the maritime border. But he clarified that, if the relocation system the EU has decided on does not function fully, there is a danger of the hotspots’ losing their intended purpose and of thousands of refugees being trapped in the country, which the Greek government is not prepared to accept.

Mr. Xydakis will continue his meetings in Lisbon on Wednesday, winding up his tour of southern EU countries on Thursday, in Italy.

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