GUE/NGL Vice President, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, addressed the criticisms being cast at Greece, pronouncing that the refugee crisis is “not a Greek and Italian problem, it is a European problem. Greece has made a lot of progress as compared to the report drawn up in the beginning of November. I'm sure that when you get the evaluation for March you will see that we have stepped up to the mark and respected the commitments we undertook.”

“Italy and Greece need more European solidarity in order to manage their external borders. The management of the migrant crisis requires increased cooperation within the EU, not a sort of a-la-carte Europe as we have for the Common Agricultural Policy or for infrastructure.”

“We don't want to go back to xenophobia and racism. We don't want to see Europe taken apart bit by bit. This is what the extreme right wants.”

German MEP, Cornelia Ernst, reinforced Papadimoulis' comments on the Greek situation: “There are some 13,600 kilometres of sea borders and several hundred islands. What exactly do we want from Greece? If I was Greek, my question would be how do we deal with these thousands of refugees arriving there without any genuine solidarity being shown?”

Ernst also addressed the issue of violent attacks on refugees: “There is increasing violence and discrimination against refugees in Europe and one of the causes of this is that we have not said in this chamber that violence against refugees is a crime. It is not enough to simply stand by and watch refugees being abused. Centres for refugees have to be properly protected.”

Swedish MEP, Malin Björk, added: “The extreme right suspects all refugees of being terrorists. When Denmark comes up with its horrible laws, when Sweden closes its borders, when national and EU politicians weigh up refugees against their own welfare, we are contributing to this.”

“We need to have people saving lives in the Mediterranean; we need to have people receiving refugees; we need a refugee-friendly coalition of European countries working together for a worthy reception. We need a new policy.”

Irish MEP, Martina Anderson, raised the human rights abuses occurring for refugee children in Europe: “The disturbing revelation that more than 10,000 refugee children are missing across the European Union is proof – if proof is needed – that Europe is failing appallingly in this humanitarian crisis.”

“The refugees that are fleeing barrel bombs and drone strikes should be met with open arms, but instead they are detained or pushed into the criminal claws of human traffickers and abusers. Families are torn apart and childhood innocence is destroyed forever as little children are trafficked for sex work or slave labour. An organised criminal infrastructure is exploiting the refugee crisis and European policy is making their job easier.”

“The provision of safe and legal routes for refugees and asylum seekers is the only way to prevent this dreadfulness,” Anderson concluded.

Spanish MEP, Marina Albiol Guzmán, added: “In 70 years, humanity will ask how could we accept this type of atrocity in Europe against people who are fleeing war? They belong to the same human race as people who are confiscating valuables from refugees.”

“The extreme right is not alone in its racist and xenophobic positions. It's supported by the European institutions and a large number of member states governments. Some people inflict violence in the streets, while others do it in chambers, but it's the same violence,” Albiol Guzmán concluded.

GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings  +32 483 03 55 75
Gay Kavanagh  +32 473 84 23 20

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