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Greek and German Foreign Ministers Present Hard Facts on Refugee Situation

Nov. 9, 2015 (EIRNS)—German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was on an official visit to Athens on Oct. 29 for discussions with Greek officials including Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. High on the agenda for both was the refugee crisis and the war in Syria. On Oct. 30, the Greek Foreign Ministry published an English-language transcript of their Oct. 29 press conference, in which they both made important statements.

Regarding the refugee crisis, Foreign Minister Kotzias stressed, as have other Greek officials, that the key issues is to solve the war in Syria and the fact that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been stripped of financing.

Kotzias said he warned back in February, in the German media, that the funding cuts to UN refugee relief operations would lead to a massive increase of refugee flows. He warned again at the press conference that he has information some 300,000 refugees are en route from camps in Jordan and Lebanon, and in Turkey they are selling all of their belongings in order to make the long journey.

Kozias said these are only part of 3 million in the refugee camps who are leaving, because they are literally starving in the camps. He detailed the cut in funding which has gone from $150 per family per month in the camps, to $13, that is, about $0.43 per day. Steinmeier agreed, saying that Germany had called a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting that raised $1.7 billion in pledges just to finance food for the camps, but that this was not nearly enough.

Kotzias also made a powerful intervention in support of the Egyptian government saying,

"No one should play with fire, destabilizing other countries in the region. Some like to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. I understand this. I was never a fan of military regimes. My generation was in the jails of the military junta. Stability and security in the region comes first. Has anyone considered what will happen in the case of a disorderly collapse of the regime in Egypt, with 96 million people, 62 million of whom are young and without identity, outlook, jobs? And behind these tens of millions, there are 45 million who are now emerging from the civil war in Sudan, as well as the failed state of Somalia. In my opinion, we need to avert the destabilization of this region from top to bottom, because otherwise the refugee situation in the Mediterranean will be truly beyond control. Consequently, we need to take many, many measures."

Steinmeier also made the point that there is no solution to ending the war in Syria without involving President Bashar Al-Assad.