The need for a fair policy on immigration and asylum issues in the European Union, which will fully respect international law and human rights and will be based on solidarity, was underlined by the President of the Parliamentary Group of SYRIZA-PS, Sokratis Famellos, in his intervention today in Autumn Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, held in Yerevan, Armenia.

S. Famellos initially referred to the period 2015-2016, when Greece and Europe were faced with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War: “With no infrastructure, with a newly established Asylum Service, and with the Coast Guard and Police significantly under-resourced, due to the economic crisis, the then government of SYRIZA managed to respond to the refugee crisis, when in fact European countries closed their borders with our country to avoid the influx of refugees into their territory”, he pointed out.

He emphasized that today instability continues, and even intensifies as conflicts escalate, resulting in thousands of people being displaced and forced to seek refuge elsewhere, referring both to the displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, to Ukrainian refugees, and to the displacement of Palestinians to the Gaza Strip.

“We must respond to the new requirements based on the principles of international law, and with respect towards the people who are forced to leave their homes. And we must not forget that it is not only conflicts and the inability of international organizations and world leaders to prevent or stop them. Poverty, as well as the climate crisis, additionally force many people to leave their place, in search of decent living conditions. And here as a global community we have also not responded and we must do much more, in the framework of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development”, he underlined.

Finally, S. Famellos emphasized that the only way to face the challenge is to turn against easy nationalist solutions: “We must protect our borders, but with absolute respect for international law. Tragedies like those in Lampedusa or the Pylos shipwreck cannot and should not be repeated. Migration and asylum policies must include new agreements with countries of origin and transit countries, such as Turkey, and address both traffickers and the causes that force people to leave their homes. And in this context, the Left shaped the European Parliament’s position on the New Migration and Asylum Pact of the European Union. We support the mandatory and proportional relocation of asylum seekers in all member states in crisis situations, and the recognition of refugees through the prima facie procedure, as was done in the case of the Ukrainian refugees. We also insist on the mandatory and equal relocation of refugees and asylum seekers in all member states and a European return mechanism. Only in this way can we ensure that, firstly, the countries of first reception will not bear a disproportionate burden, and secondly, that the refugees who are looking for a better tomorrow will have the prospect of integration and a better life”, he underlined.