Greek leader urges EU to come up with plan for refugee crisis

Greek leader urges EU to come up with plan for refugee crisis
A boy carries a bag as he arrives with his family at a refugee camp in the northern Greek village of Idomeni today. Pic: AP

The European Union needs to come up with a comprehensive package of measures to deal with its refugee crisis, according to Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

Mr Tsipras said the measures should include more involvement by Europe-wide bodies in transit countries like his own, and a properly thought-out and paid-for relocation and resettlement plan.

Dismissing suggestions that his country has been reluctant to allow a bigger EU involvement in the eastern Greek islands, Mr Tsipras said that Europe has to cooperate more on the many difficulties it faces, not least the refugee crisis and the economic problems afflicting the euro currency.

Greece has been at the heart of both crises, and last year Mr Tsipras signed the country’s third international bailout agreement in a little more than five years.

Greek leader urges EU to come up with plan for refugee crisis

Mr Tsipras told a panel at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos that “we need more Europe” that is focused on building democracy, solidarity and employment.

Earlier, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Europe will have to invest billions to deal with the refugee crisis that it has faced over the past year.

Mr Schaeuble indicated his strong support for efforts to deal with problems in the transit countries at the forefront of the crisis, such as Greece and Italy. He did not respond to a question on how many more refugees Germany can take in the current year.

At a panel at the World Economic Forum, Mr Schaeuble said it would be a “disgrace” if Europe became a fortress.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said Europe has to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the refugee crisis within the next two months.

Mr Rutte said nobody was talking about ending the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement of people across European borders.

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