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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-16

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras discusses refugee crisis with UNHCR's Angelina Jolie
  • [02] Merkel urges pan-European approach that does not abandon Greece
  • [03] Greek central gov't cash balance shows 429-mln-euro surplus in Jan-Feb‏

  • [01] PM Tsipras discusses refugee crisis with UNHCR's Angelina Jolie

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with American actress and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt at Maximos Mansion on Wednesday, where they discussed the refugee crisis.

    Welcoming Jolie Pitt in Athens, Tsipras presented the refugee issue and noted the difficult situation which has been created at Greece's northern border.

    Earlier, Jolie Pitt paid a visit to some of the thousands of refugees and migrants temporarily housed in facilities in Piraeus port and the Elaionas refugee centre in central Athens.

    "The situation is very difficult especially on the northern border. I know that you visited reception centers in Piraeus. The situation there is better. We have 30,000 people who have been trapped in the Greek mainland due to actions of countries on the Balkan route," Tsipras told the UNHCR's special envoy.

    [02] Merkel urges pan-European approach that does not abandon Greece

    With a message to refugees at Idomeni to trust Greek authorities and move to the alternative accommodation prepared for them - but also a warning to European countries that the current temporary relief from refugee flows would not be without consequences - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday called for a pan-European approach that did not abandon Greece but reduced the number of refugees in all the countries.

    "At this time, without doubt we are benefiting in Germany from the fact that migration flows - due to the unilateral decisions of Austria and the countries along the Balkan Route - have stopped. But I cannot warn often enough that we must not be misled by this. Because this temporary relief that Germany and other member-states feel at this moment is one side, but the other side is the situation in Greece that must concern us all. Because this will not be without consequences for any of us in Europe," she said.

    Referring to Thursday's European summit during her speech to the Bundestag, and the discussion about opening new chapters in accession talks with Turkey, Merkel said that alot of work needed to be done and that Turkey's accession was not on the agenda in the short term.

    The real question, Merkel said, was how to reduce the number of refugees for all and to do so sustainably and permanently, without undermining Europe's basic achievements. Only a solution involving all of Europe would be able to prevent the refugee routes from shifting, due to the closure of internal borders, to new and more dangerous routes that will benefit only the traffickers, she added.

    Only such a pan-European approach will result in solutions that will not sacrifice the last member-state in the line, which in this case was Greece, she noted, pointing out that Germany only prospered sustainably when Europe prospered as a whole. She welcomed the European Commission's decision to provide assistance to Greece and said that Germany had also provided help on a bilateral level, while she was in close communication with the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, as were the German interior and foreign minister with their Greek counterparts.

    Merkel referred to Greece's obligations to set up fully operational hotspots and register all arriving refugees, saying that there had been significant progress in this area, as well as in providing reception facilities, since the autumn of 2015. She noted that Greece wants to handle the crisis in a humane way, providing safety, care and shelter, and that Germany was willing to assist with this, both financially and practically.

    Talking about the prospects of the refugees in Greece, the German chancellor clarified that they did not have the right to asylum in a specific country of their choosing but they did have a right to be treated in a humane way.

    "We are working on this with Greece... those now waiting in Idomeni must trust the Greek government, that the new accommodation in Greece is a great deal better than in Idomeni," she said.

    [03] Greek central gov't cash balance shows 429-mln-euro surplus in Jan-Feb‏

    Greece's central government cash balance recorded a surplus of 429 million euros in the January-February period this year, compared to a deficit of 920 million in the same period in 2015, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a report, said that during this period, ordinary budget revenue amounted to 7,585 million euros, compared to 6,735 million in the corresponding period of last year. Revenue of 43 million euros from Securities Markets Programme (SMP) income transfers from the Bank of Greece is excluded. Ordinary budget expenditure amounted to 7,779 million euros, from 7,677 million in January-February 2015.


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