The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and of Immigration and Asylum, Jean Asselborn, paid a two-day working visit to Greece on 12th, during which time he was received by his Greek counterpart, George Gerapetritis. The Ministers praised the good bilateral relations between the two countries. As part of the 90th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Luxembourg and Greece, the working visit was also an opportunity to discuss ways to further strengthen relations between the two countries.
During their joint statements to the press, Minister Gerapetritis emphasised the need for a European strategy on migration issues that will distribute the burden equally between the EU Member States, based on the principles of solidarity. He noted that Greece is on the front line of migration, due to its geographical position, and bears a disproportionate share of the migration burden, adding that migration and refugee flows will not stop as wars and inequality will always encourage the movement of populations seeking safety and a better future.
While Greece had achieved much in terms managing migration flows, no country could handle this problem unaided he said. European policy on this issue should be based on three areas: supervising European borders to fight migrant trafficking, ensuring returns in cases not eligible for humanitarian protection and ensuring that there were legal routes for migration, he added. “Greece, like the other countries of Europe, has need of working hands and therefore, to ensure that there are legal and controlled routes weakens traffickers and illegal circuits,” he pointed out.
On his part, Minister Asselborn expressed support for Greece in the aftermath of the devastating fires and floods. Regarding EU enlargement, he noted that the Balkans countries should be encouraged to do everything possible to join the EU.
Minister Asselborn also held a meeting with the Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum, Dimitris Kairidis, during which time he noted that Luxembourg has demonstrated, and is committed to continuing, its solidarity with Greece, in particular through relocation since 2015 of 335 people who arrived in the EU through Greece. The pact on asylum and migration and the ongoing discussions at European level on the reform of European migration policy were also on the agenda.
Minister Asselborn also met several representatives of different international organisations and Greek civil society for an exchange of views and analyses on the migration situation in Greece.
A highlight of his visit was a concert marking the 90th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations and the 30th Anniversary of the opening of the Luxembourg Embassy in Athens. Held at the Benaki Museum, guests enjoyed a rich programme of songs by the renown Greek composer and lyricist Mikis Theodorakis, who had an inspiring relationship with Luxembourg. Soprano Sonia Theodoridou (Greece), pianist Jean Müller (Luxembourg) and flutist Carlo Jans (Luxembourg) were joined by the ERT orchestra conducted by Giorgos Aravidis (Greece). Pictured above: the artists with Minister Asselborn, Deputy Foreign Minister Giorgos Kotsiras and Luxembourg Ambassador Elisabeth Cardoso Jordão.