In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly’s high-level debate, the Deputy Prime Minister of Greece reiterated the importance of a national action plan on asylum and migration in his country and southern Europe overall.
Addressing other senior level officials from around the world, Evangelos Venizelos said that Greece “felt the pressures of migration.”
The country has reviewed its national action plan and looks forward to the UN General Assembly high-level dialogue on International Migration and Development to be held on 3 and 4 October.
Venizelos, who is also the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that there had been a positive impact on migration both for home countries and destination countries, and the upcoming meeting on that topic was a good opportunity to participate in the common efforts on migration.
In his statement, the Greek official also noted his country’s active contribution to the Human Rights Council, for which it was submitting its candidature for the 2017-2019 term.
Despite financial constraints, Greece also remained committed to UN peacekeeping operations and contributed troops and funds, particularly to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Venizelos also called the launch of the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine a “positive step” towards security in the region, as it is now time to take bold and concrete steps towards peace.
He further condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and lent support to the UN political efforts.
The speech in full:
“I wish to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for your work toward strengthening of the role and effectiveness of the United Nations, in full respect of the principles of the Charter. I take this opportunity to emphasize my country’s alignment with the EU positions presented by President Van Rompuy in his speech.
Greece remains fully dedicated to the achievement of the goals of the UN, the universal ideals of which have never ceased to inspire us. We are fully dedicated to the collective work toward lasting peace, prosperity and the protection of human dignity. In this spirit, we fully support the efforts being made toward the reform and strengthening of the Organization so that we can effectively confront the challenges of the 21st century.
We welcome the Special Event for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the High Level Political Forum that took place this week, promoting the key Development and Cooperation themes on an international level.
Effective management of migration that will have a positive effect in countries of origin and destination countries. The High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development to be carried out on 3 and 4 October is an major opportunity for us to draw up a comprehensive agenda for the effective and inclusive management of migration, as well as to reaffirm the necessary political will. Greece is undertaking a commitment to participate actively in the joint efforts toward achieving the above goal.
Greece – and the countries of southern Europe in general – are under strong pressure due to illegal migration, which significantly burdens our economic and administrative capabilities. The effective management of migration is a fundamental political choice for Greece, given that it is directly linked to protection of and respect for human rights, social cohesion, public safety, and the country’s economic stability.
Based on the experience we have gained in recent years, we proceeded to a revision of the National Action Plan for reforming the system of asylum and migration management. Moreover, the issues of migration and mobility of persons are included in the priorities for Greece’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2014.
The promotion of human rights is of prime importance to us. In this context, Greece fully supports the establishing of an enhanced Human Rights Council with a clear mandate. Greece is determined to contribute actively to the Human Rights Council’s mission and has submitted its candidacy for 2017-2019.
Greece is fully dedicated to the decisive role of the United Nations in favor of peace and security. Despite our economic limitations, we remain dedicated to the UN’s peacekeeping missions, to which we contribute through the provision of human resources and means, mainly in the FINUL mission. We support the efforts toward conflict prevention and promotion of the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Moreover, we attach great importance to the EU-UN cooperation in the crisis management sector, and we welcome the efforts under way to further strengthen this cooperation.
The re-launching of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, facilitated by the United States, provides an important opportunity to reach a final settlement to this longstanding problem, to the benefit of stability in the wider region.
A settlement based on a two-state solution, with a secure Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestine living side by side.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas must be praised for their leadership and courage to engage in the peace talks. Now is the time to take bold and concrete steps towards peace.
Greece is very concerned with the ongoing crisis and bloodshed in Syria; a crisis that jeopardizes stability in a fragile region.
Greece and the EU have unequivocally condemned the use of chemical weapons, and we strongly support the U.S.-Russian initiative for the collection and destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.
We welcome the diplomatic breakthrough achieved by the Security Council on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
And it is our fervent hope that this would be a crucial turning point in the Syrian crisis, providing vital momentum towards a Geneva II-type process that can take us to a viable and inclusive political resolution of the Syrian crisis.
Greece has always been a firm supporter of a European future for the Balkan region. The process of European integration means leaving behind old, divisive mentalities and moving towards an era of close cooperation, on the basis of shared values and principles.
Demonstrating political courage, Belgrade and Pristina concluded a historic Agreement on 19 April 2013, which is a major development towards consolidating peace and stability in the Western Balkans and advancing both sides’ European integration.
We seek to develop our relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia based on the UN Charter principles and in the framework of good-neighbourly relations. Greece is committed to the ongoing UN-led negotiation process and to finding a solution on the name issue. So we continue our efforts to reach a mutually acceptable name for all uses -erga omnes- that will leave no grey areas and which will allow for a clear distinction between our neighbouring country and the region of Macedonia in Northern Greece. The solution of the name issue will enable both Greece and its neighbor to develop a multifaceted and productive cooperation at the bilateral and regional level. It will also contribute to the stability and prosperity of Southeastern Europe and boost this country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Thirty-nine years after the 1974 Turkish military invasion of the island, the Cyprus problem, remains, first and foremost, an issue of illegal military occupation of well over a third of the territory of a UN and EU member state. A comprehensive and agreed settlement of this major international problem is a top priority for the foreign policy of Greece. In this context, Greece greatly values the UN Secretary General’s Mission of Good Offices and, in particular, his ongoing efforts to effectively relaunch the intercommunal negotiating process. We also fully support President Anastasiadis’ renewed constructive package proposal.
We hope that Ankara, at long last, will decide to pursue a new policy of normalization of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus. Such a Turkish policy would decisively facilitate the relaunching of intercommunal negotiations. A just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue — a solution within the framework of the relevant Security Council resolutions and in line with the acquis communautaire; a solution approved by the Cypriot people through a referendum.
The new developments in the energy sector — regarding the exploitation of hydrocarbons — can function as a factor for development, peace and stability throughout the region.
Relations with our neighbour Turkey are set on a positive course. An institutionalized cooperation at the highest government level, as well as increasing tourism and economic cooperation, can create further potential for the future.
Nevertheless, the determining factors for a substantially promising perspective for our relationship with our Eastern Neighbour are:
-full respect of international law and international legality,
-and in this framework a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
The Greek people have succeeded in restoring the country’s credibility. Greece has already achieved the highest structural primary surplus in the Eurozone – 5% of GDP. Greece has achieved a peacetime historical first: a fiscal adaptation of 19% of GDP in the four years between 2009 and 2013. And we have done this in spite of experiencing six years of recession. We have carried out necessary, structural reforms in public administration, in the investment sector and in the labor market, and our privatization program is already yielding results. But all of this, of course, has come through great sacrifices by the Greek people and at a very high social cost. Defending democracy and the rule of law against forms of racist, xenophobic conduct -and against all forms of social violence -is a fundamental engagement of the Hellenic Republic.
I wish also to say a few words about the priorities of Greece’s upcoming Presidency of the EU, in the first half of 2014. Coming at a time of unprecedented economic challenges for the Union, our Presidency will carry forward the vital debate on the future of Europe. A debate that will intensify as we approach next year’s European elections.
All these issues humanity is facing and are being dealt with by this session of the General Assembly emphasize the need to enhance the role of the United Nations as well as the necessity of further consolidating the institutions of global economic and political governance.
The hopes of the international community are oriented towards the United Nations. Our Organization has to send strong and clear message of peace, security and prosperity to the people of the world, and particularly to the younger generation…”