Greek PM calls for cooperation on refugees with Turkey

Greek prime minister says countries need to work together to stem human tragedy in Aegean

Greek PM calls for cooperation on refugees with Turkey

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey and Greece should cooperate to tackle to toll of refugee casualties in the Aegean Sea, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday.

Tsipras told an Ankara news conference with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu that his visit came at a critical time for the region.

“Our cooperation can change the balance in Europe, we should make use of this,” he said.

He added that his trip symbolized a new and hopeful era in previously rocky relations between the neighbors, who have been divided over territorial disputes and Cyprus.

The “human crisis” in the Aegean and terrorism “creates a negative atmosphere in our region,” Tsipras said. “To tackle these threats we should cooperate.”

He called for a solution to the crisis that has seen Turkey become home to 2.5 million refugees as 650,000 have arrived in Greece this year.

“To deal with human traffickers we need a joint fight,” Tsipras told journalists. “Because these [people] are a threat to humanity, an insult. They do not hesitate to put a human being’s life in danger.

“Our first responsibility here is to end this human tragedy in the Aegean. This is our responsibility as humans and we need to address this. This crisis is international and no country can tackle it on its own. That’s why a cooperation plan between Europe and Turkey should be made.”

Tsipras called on the EU to take responsibility for the migrant crisis and offer refugees legal assurances to dissuade them from using illegal routes into Europe.

The Greek prime minister arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, where he attended a friendly football match between the two national teams in Istanbul before talks on Wednesday.

Tsipras previously spoke to Davutoglu to congratulate him on winning the Nov. 1 general election. He said Wednesday the result would allow the two countries to plan over the next four years. Tsipras’ coalition was reelected in September.

Turning to Cyprus, which has been split between the Greek and Turkish communities since 1974, Tsipras welcomed recent advances in finding a solution to reunify the island under a federal system.

“We decided to encourage the two communities in Cyprus to find a permanent and fair solution,” he said.

“Now we have an opportunity… We should support a solution in which both nations can live under the roof of a federation within the framework of UN and European Parliament resolutions. This solution should be accepted by everyone and the Cypriot people.”

He also voiced Greek support for Turkey’s bid to join the EU, saying accession would benefit both countries.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Kasım 2015, 09:06