Refugee crisis dominates German FM's Greece visit

Earlier comments by Frank-Walter Steinmeier attempt to decouple Greece's refugee and austerity issues

Refugee crisis dominates German FM's Greece visit

World Bulletin / News Desk

The refugee crisis was at the top of the agenda for German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s meetings with high-ranking officials in Athens on Thursday.

Greece has become the entry point for tens of thousands of migrants to the EU from nearby Turkey and has experienced great difficulty coping with the influx due to its cash-strapped economy.

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos was the first to meet the German FM, saying: "Europe has borders which are primarily determined by international and European laws and they are defined by the dominant member states."

“We will protect them together, but we, as a dominant state will define which are the borders and the way we will protect them."

Steinmeier said that throwing the blame from one country to the other leads nowhere and pointed out that Europe needs a written policy.

Referring to Greek-German relations, he underlined that they have been affected by misunderstandings, emphasizing that traditional relations should be restored.

However, while Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has attempted to secure an easing of bailout austerity terms to compensate for Greece's financial burden in managing migration flows, Steinmeier – in remarks on the eve of his visit – insisted on decoupling the two issues.

"We continue our efforts to keep Greece in the euro zone. But, it will not work without decisive steps by Athens," the German Foreign Ministry tweeted following a meeting between Steinmeier and his Italian counterpart, Paolo Gentiloni, in Berlin on Wednesday.

At his meeting with Steinmeier on Thursday, Tsipras noted that the government is proceeding with the implementation of the bailout agreement.

During an interview with the newspaper Ta Nea published the same day, Steinmeier stressed that what is important right now is to implement reforms and “boost trust”.

At a joint press conference, the Greek and German foreign ministers emphasized the need to overcome stereotypes and prejudices while also voicing their will to develop cooperation on specific projects, such as the creation of a youth foundation with the aim of regenerating friendly feelings between German and Greek people once again.

Referring to the latest refugee shipwreck in the Aegean, Steinmeier said: “We need to work towards a European solution, including the unification of standards and the homogenization of different perceptions regarding origin countries and a common approach to European borders."

“We should take into account consultations with our European neighbors such as those with Turkey and African states," he added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ekim 2015, 09:14