COPENHAGEN, 3 March 2020 – Regarding developments on the Turkish-Greek border, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli today called for greater co-ordination between Turkey and European Union Member States to mitigate the situation and to pursue a sustainable solution.
“For several years now, Greece and Turkey have assumed a disproportionate responsibility for hosting refugees from the Syrian civil war and migrants facing hardship,” Tsereteli said. “Acknowledging the difficult situation both of these countries are in, we must also appreciate the urgent need for humanitarian assistance and support for the very vulnerable people who are on the move and have long been living under difficult circumstances in refugee camps.”
He added that the need for assistance is particularly acute considering the current global alert related to the COVID-19 coronavirus, as people without access to healthcare and sanitary facilities are especially susceptible to illness.
“The international community should make clear that Greece and Turkey, as well as other countries such as Bulgaria, are dealing with an emergency situation and deserve support, but at the same time, these governments must remember their obligations to exercise restraint and respect human rights. The 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey must be fully implemented and the conflict in Syria, which especially is putting Turkey under immense pressure, must be brought to a peaceful conclusion,” Tsereteli said.
President Tsereteli noted that the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration is following the situation closely and that OSCE PA Special Representative on South East Europe Mark Pritchard is visiting Athens this week where he will hold discussions with Greek officials on a range of issues including migration and regional co-operation. Pritchard will also visit a refugee camp on the outskirts of Athens.
Margareta Cederfelt, Acting Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, said today that EU countries should step in to alleviate the immediate pressure on Greece and Turkey. “There needs to be a sustainable solution at the EU level,” Cederfelt said. “Member States can show more solidarity and do their part by taking in more refugees and asylum seekers, including a share of the 5,000 unaccompanied minors who are currently living in Greece.”
In the Luxembourg Declaration of 2019, the OSCE PA called on “OSCE participating States to improve legal frameworks for migration with the aim of increasing effective international co-operation, promoting integration, facilitating labour mobility, addressing drivers of migration such as poverty and conflict, establishing pathways for regular migration, promoting education opportunities and protecting the right to family life.”