The refugee crisis, Greece’s bailout and regional issues were at the center of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s discussions on Thursday with Greek officials in Athens, where he also suggested that lenders will take into account the extra money the government has to spend due to the refugee influx.
“When we discuss fiscal issues, we also take into account the next burden, which is waves of refugees,” said the German diplomat.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias claimed that Greece is spending five times as much on tackling the refugee crisis as the savings it is being asked to make from reductions to pensions.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed that the European Union’s “main priority” must be to ensure to reach an understanding with Turkey so that it has the biggest share of responsibility for managing the influx of migrants.
Steinmeier noted that no single EU member could address the problem on its own.
“I am convinced that we won’t get anywhere if we just point the finger at each other, if one considers that the responsibility lies with the other,” Steinmeier said during a meeting in Athens with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Steinmeier said the EU will only find answers “when we no longer seek the best by pursuing national interests” but instead pursue European solutions. These, he said, could include a common approach on what constitutes a safe country of provenance, and on guarding the EU’s external borders.