Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visits Samos refugee camp and meets new Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs
Bern, 10.07.2019 - Mr Cassis's visit to Greece has mainly been concerned with the situation of refugees and the challenges posed by migration. On Tuesday, the head of the FDFA visited the refugee camp on Samos and today met Nikos Dendias, who was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs this week, and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
"The visit to Samos touched me profoundly. The refugees in the camp are in a difficult situation, with Greek society having to address considerable challenges", said Mr Cassis. He also expressed his appreciation for Greece's efforts in addressing migration. Although the number of people arriving in Greece has declined since an all-time peak in 2015, migration rates are still high.
"The influx of migrants poses a challenge to all countries on the European continent and does not just affect the EU's external borders, which are particularly exposed to migratory pressures", continued Mr Cassis. Switzerland has always accepted its share of responsibility for migration within Europe. "What I saw yesterday on Samos has reaffirmed my belief in Switzerland's role."
Switzerland provides support, including funding, for a range of Greek programmes and has accepted some 600 refugees from Greece. "But it is also vital to address the root causes of migration, so that people don't have any reason to leave their homeland", commented Mr Cassis, referring to the international cooperation strategy defined for the 2021–24 period. These are now part of a public consultation to be completed by the end of August.
Switzerland and the European Union
In their talks, Mr Dendias and Mr Cassis discussed the stability of the Mediterranean region, including the question of Cyprus. Mr Cassis also said that if all parties are willing to return to the negotiating table, Switzerland is ready to facilitate further rounds of talks on the question.
Mr Cassis also explained Switzerland's position regarding the institutional agreement with the EU and the necessary political processes within Switzerland. He stressed that the Federal Council essentially agrees with the outcome of the negotiations, but is seeking clarification in three key areas.
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