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Europe has duty to assume responsibility on refugees

09 November 15 | Prokopis Pavlopoulos
Prokopis Pavlopoulos

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The war in the Middle East and Syria must stop, otherwise the "nightmare" of the refugee crisis will continue, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said during a visit to the Aegean island of Lesvos on Sunday.

 

Speaking at Skala Sykamnias, the stretch of coastline where the majority refugees making the crossing from Turkey come ashore, Pavlopoulos stressed that Europe has a duty to assume responsibility for this outcome. "It is Europe's responsibility for the war to end.

And it is truly hypocrisy to ask for protection and help toward these people without looking at where the real problems lies," he said.

The president announced that Greece and also he personally will undertake every possible initiative, apart from protecting people, to end the war and said he was appealing to all European leaders on Greece's behalf.

He also made it clear that there should be "no more misunderstandings that the borders of Europe are the borders of Greece, which are determined with sovereignty and that we also determine the ways in which we will guard these borders. All can see here that Greeks guard the borders of Europe."

Pavlopoulos had earlier visited the village of Skala Sykamnias and talked with local residents, who are daily witnesses of the refugee crisis on their island. The president, who was on the island to attend celebrations marking the 103rd anniversary since Lesvos' liberation from Ottoman rule, had earlier emphasised its contribution to both protecting the borders of Greece and the EU, as well as human lives, dignity and values.

"Your example is one of civilisation and humanity.

And until Europe makes its decisions, the weight falls on your shoulders but also the praise for what you do," Pavlopoulos said while addressing officers of the Lesvos Coast Guard. Among them were the crew of coast guard vessels involved in the rescue of literally thousands of refugees and migrants endangered in their attempt to make the crossing to Lesvos from Turkey.

In statements after a parade in the island's main town Mytilene, Pavlopoulos noted that Lesvos, at this extremely critical time for the country, was proving the "sleepless and tireless guardian of the borders of Greece and the European Union, but primarily the ideal, to the point of self-sacrifice, expressor of peace and defence of humanity."

He then attended a ceremony at the University of the Aegean, where he was presented with a medal by the university's rector Stefanos Gritzalis and, quoting a line from Aeschylus' 'Agamemnon', expressed hope that "we will soon stop 'seeing the Aegean flowering with corpses'".

Referring to the patrolling of the Greek border, he said that Greece's actions were primarily focused on protecting people. "We protect with sovereignty the Greek border and simultaneously the European border. But at the same time we protect people. That is what we teach," he said.

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