The German Foreign Minister, Analena Baerbock, visited SolidarityNow’s Athens Solidarity Center on Thursday 28th July, on the first day of her arrival in Greece, where a discussion was held with representatives of civil society organizations.
The Chairman of SolidarityNow’s Board of Directors, Mr. Stelios Zavvos, welcomed the Minister to the Athens Solidarity Center and coordinated the discussion aiming to share information about the current situation of migration in Greece, the work of the participating organizations and the role of other European countries in managing the issue. The visit was an initiative of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Embassy in Greece, and the discussion was attended by the German Ambassador to Greece, Dr. Ernst Reichel. The representatives of the other three organizations which participated were: Lefteris Papagiannakis, Greek Council for Refugees, Alexandros Chrysomallos, Equal Rights Beyond Borders, and Maria Moudatsou, PRAKSIS.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcomed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Baerbock, at our emblematic Solidarity Center in Athens where we had the opportunity to present the work carried to support the most vulnerable members of our society and, together with the representatives of other organizations, to inform her of the issues concerning refugees and migrants in our country, but also to emphasize the solidarity with which Greeks have welcome refugees in recent years and the need for further practical support from Europe, always in the spirit and vision of European solidarity”, Mr. Zavvos stated at the end of the visit.
“It is extremely positive that the German Minister of Foreign Affairs held a meeting with representatives of NGOs active in Refugee and Migration issues. On this occasion, and on behalf of the Greek Council for Refugees, she was informed about issues of pushbacks, reception, and difficulty in accessing asylum, the lack of a national policy for integration, and the criminalization of solidarity, and the action of NGOs”, Lefteris Papagiannakis, Director of the Greek Council for Refugees.
“At the meeting with the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, we had the opportunity to highlight the issue of the complete lack of integration prospects for recognized refugees in Greece, as well as the implementation of a policy to deter migratory flows, either through obstacles in accessing the asylum process on the islands and the mainland, when returns to Turkey have been suspended, or through a systematic reduction in benefits for asylum seekers. We also expressed our concern about returns of recognized and rejected applicants from Germany to Greece within the framework of Dublin refugees in the future, as this would constitute a violation of fundamental rights and expose them to pushbacks, exploitation, and inhumane living conditions”, Alexandros Chrysomallos, Equal Rights Beyond Borders.
“On behalf of PRAKSIS, we informed the German Foreign Minister on issues relating to refugee and migrant support, the needs, gaps, and weaknesses of social inclusion, as well as our concerns for the immediate future. Reception, housing, vulnerable population groups, issues related to central policy in support of refugees and migrants, were the main topics discussed”, Maria Moudatsou, Vice-President of the Board of Directors of PRAKSIS.