A. Tsipras on Migration: No time for hesitation

A. Tsipras on Migration: No time for hesitation

Athens, October 1, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

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By Spiros Sideris

The message that “there is no time for hesitation, particularly for Western partners, the decisions of which were so critical in shaping the destiny of these countries”, nor room for options on foreign policy without taking account of the impact, convened the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, in his speech at the High Level Meeting on Migration and Refugee flows, in New York.

Tsipras noted that in the flows of recent months, the vast majority of people coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, who passed the Greek-Turkish border and reached the Greek islands, having as their destination the northern European countries, are refugees fleeing from wars and conflicts. He stressed that “if we manage – especially here at the UN – to restore security in an resolute and overall manner, if build a new model oriented towards development and if we address the refugee and migration flows humanely and efficiently, then we will succeed”.

The Greek prime minister developed three specific actions that are needed now to tackle the phenomenon:

– “First, the UN and the international community must redouble their efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria and Libya, and to cope with jihadism. Diplomatic solutions are needed, which include all major actors in the region. And we need these solutions to put the foundation for national reconciliation.

– Secondly, we must support the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and to set up and expand a generous and robust mechanism for resettlement refugees from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. This will give hope to those people, thus preventing them from trusting dangerous traffickers.

– In addition, we must support the neighboring countries of Syria in the reception of migrants and to strengthen cooperation to dismantle networks of traffickers”. Tsipras pointed out that “in the EU, we made an important step to set up a mechanism for the redistributing 160,000 refugees”.

He also stressed that Greece, in cooperation with the European Commission and other international organizations, organizes the necessary infrastructure, including hotspots, for the support of the mechanism and the improvement of the management of migration. He stressed furthermore that “it is absolutely necessary for more to be done at European level as regards coordination, improving institutional capacities and increase in funding”.

Tsipras warmly welcomed “today’s very timely initiative of the Secretary General, as well as the inclusion of migration in the Development Agenda 2030”. Referring to Greece, he stated that “in the last 25 years, my country has been at the center of migration flows with arrivals of over 25 million people, who came to Greece, either going elsewhere or with the intention of staying”.

He noted that “however, the flows in previous years are not comparable with those of recent months: since the beginning of the year more than 300,000 people coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq crossed the borders of Greece with Turkey and arrived in Greek islands, having as their destination the northern European countries”. He stressed that “the vast majority of these people – over 80% – are refugees fleeing from wars and conflicts” and that “these migration movements cause: wars and conflicts – regardless of their internal causes – that we as a global community failed to manage and resolve effectively”.

“There is no time for hesitation”, he said, “especially for the Western partners, the decisions of which were so critical in shaping the destiny of these countries”. “We have no margin”, he said, “to make choices in foreign policy without considering the consequences”. Tsipras further said that “many in Europe were surprised by this phenomenon”, to add, “but, frankly, they should not have been surprised”. “Countries much poorer and with much smaller populations face even greater challenges for a longer time”, he said. “What we need now is concrete action”, Tsipras pointed out, presenting the aforementioned actions.

Concluding his speech, the Greek PM noted that “Greece is in the middle of three overlapping crises: the financial crisis, the refugee crisis and the security crisis due to the instability in the wider region”.

In this context, Tsipras essentially set the stake: “The way we face crises such as these, as countries, regions and global community, will be the measure of our success”. “If the face them causing more damage by raising higher walls and increasing poverty and exclusion, then we will fail”, he said. On the other hand, he stressed that “if we manage – especially here at the UN – to restore security decisively but also overall, if we build a new model oriented towards development and if we address the refugee and migration flows humanely and efficiently, then we will succeed”.