Statement following the Special Representative's meeting with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas

Athens, Greece 9 March 2016
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I would like to thank the Greek authorities for their cooperation and for having prepared this visit at such short notice.

I have been to various camps and a centre for unaccompanied minors in Athens; yesterday I went to Chios; I have also spoken with many government Ministers, local authorities and NGOs. Now I have a clear picture of the situation on the ground and of where the Council of Europe could provide advice and assistance.

It is clear that Greece cannot take on this entire burden by itself and that there should be more solidarity, both in terms of legal arrangements and in practice.

Having said this, I would like to congratulate the authorities, and also the volunteers and the Greek people who continue to offer philoxenía (hospitality).

As I pointed out, we have to work together to bring about change for the better. There is obviously room for improvement, especially concerning the reception facilities and the living conditions for refugees and asylum seekers; and in connection with the detention of minors. However, it is also clear that this cannot be achieved without greater solidarity. And it is this idea that I will convey when reporting back to the Council of Europe on this mission.

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