“Since I last spoke here, over one million migrants entered Greece. Nearly 60,000 migrants remain stranded in Greece today after our northern borders were shut off through unilateral steps of other countries,” Mr. Tsipras told the Assembly’s annual debate, also warning against the rise of xenophobic forces in Europe.
This new framework, he said, must increase support to countries hosting refugees; increase returns for people not in need of international protection and the resettlement and relocation of those in need of it; increase security cooperation against trafficking networks; and increase initiatives to tackle the root causes of migration.
He noted that Greece’s economy is now re-emerging after seven turbulent years of recession, brought on by the deepest social and economic crisis in its post-war history. Greece is working hard to show that a country that has lost 25 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in six years and watched unemployment and poverty rates skyrocket, “can stand on its feet.”
Moreover, he said, Greece is working hard to create a business-friendly environment that encourages investment and does away with the sins of the old establishment, such as corruption and parasitic business practices. Greece can establish itself as a hub for energy, trade and maritime and railway transportation in the region by taking advantage of its geographic position at the crossroads of three continents.
The country’s efforts are already reflected in the return to positive economic growth rates, the steady downward trend of unemployment, the positive public finance accounts and the revived investment interest from abroad, he said.
Turning to peace and security in the region, he said Greece remains steadfast in its support to intercommunal talks for a just, viable and comprehensive solution to the ‘Cyprus issue’ on the basis of UN resolutions and the status of Cyprus as an EU member State.