- Published: 29.10.2019.
European Union-Arab World Summit in Athens: Migration affects cooperation
Europe and the Arab world need better coordination of efforts aimed at tackling migration, an issue that dominates the relations between the two blocs, it was said at the 4th European Union-Arab World Summit in Athens on Tuesday.
Our biggest challenge is migration. This issue is not restricted to geography, it is not just the Sahel, Libya, Syria, Greece and Turkey. It is spreading everywhere in the world and has become a test of our solidarity and humanity and our readiness to counter organised crime and protect our borders, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in his opening speech at the conference which brought together European and Arab leaders, including Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
Building connections among us is our response to fragmentation which is going on in the world, the Greek PM said.
Mitsotakis called for better coordination between the Europeans and the Arabs to address migrations at their source.
“We control our borders and always take in the hunted of this world. But one country alone cannot carry the problems of three continents on its shoulders,” he said.
"The only way to respond to this great challenge of the 21st century is in a coordinated manner, with due process and cooperation. We need better coordination between the Europeans and the Arabs in order to manage the causes of migration," he added, saying the countries which the refugees and immigrants fled should do more and halt human smuggling.
"More than 78,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe so far this year, more than half of them to Greece, according to United Nations data. About 40 percent of recent arrivals are families from Afghanistan and about 20 percent are Syrian," Reuters reported.
In his speech, the Greek premier called for avoiding a fragmented response to this issue, and alluding to Turkey he said that “those who magnified the refugee crisis, using the persecuted as pawns in forwarding their own geopolitical goals, should be more cautious when referring to Greece."
On the other hand, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit said that the issue of refugees bothered the Mediterranean and said that those who were trying to intervene in the Arab world should stop doing that as they only made the situation worse.
Please, go away, Gheit said adding that the Arab world had suffered enough.
The Mediterranean - A Croatian priority
Addressing the conference, Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic said that today, 10 years after some of Arab countries were hit by the crisis, there was an opportunity to arrange relations in such a way as to make cooperation stronger.
Croatia, which is the next chair of the European Union, takes strong care of dialogue and partnership which is being developed between the European Union and Arab countries. However, challenges concerning the two blocs, notably migration, often dominate their dialogue, Plenkovic said.
The discussion about migrations has slowed down our ambitions for the Union for the Mediterranean. It is now on hold, Plenkovic said in his comment on the organisation that comprises 43 Mediterranean countries.
He said that the Mediterranean would be one of the priorities of Croatia's chairmanship of the European Union in the first half of 2020.
Croatia plans to organise a Mediterranean forum in the coastal city of Sibenik in that period.
On the margins of today's conference, the Croatian PM held bilateral talks with his Greek counterpart. Plenkovic recalled Croatia's participation in Operation Poseidon and praised the Greek authorities for coping well with the challenges of the influx of irregular migrants.
During his stay in Athens he also met Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama for a bilateral meeting and was received by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.