Athens, 7-8 December 2015, -- The European Academy Berlin (Europäische Akademie Berlin) in cooperation with the CDRSEE presented in Athens a seminar for Greek journalists, with German and Greek politicians, researchers and academia discussing the European monetary crisis, the refugee issue as well what Greece expects from Germany and the role of both countries in Europe.
The goal of the seminar, attended mainly by regional media, was to foster a better understanding of bilateral relations and to help create mutual respect. Mr Costa Carras, a founding member of the CDRSEE Board of Directors, gave the welcome speech, and CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovac and other staff members were on hand to assist at the event.
A common conclusion made by both Greek and German presenters was that the refugee issue connects the two countries, and that a common European solution must be found. Mr Michael Roth, a Member of the German Federal Parliament and Germany's Minister of State for Europe, highlighted that it is crucial that a new immigration law be proposed and implemented, and commented that Germany wants Greece to stay in the European Union and maintains the importance of the Schengen Agreement.
Dr Peter Schoof, Germany's Ambassador to Greece, added that the "Grexit issue belongs to the past” and that it is crucial for Greece to be supported as Europe attempts to rescue the Schengen Agreement.
Mr Yannis Mouzalas, Greece's Alternate Minister for Migration Affairs, called on Germany to support Greece, with human resources, infrastructure and “knowhow”. He pointed out that approximately 750,000 refugees travelled through Greek borders and highlighted the need for a registry of NGOs that will be part of a national plan.
Mr Norbert Kopp, Mayor of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough of Berlin, and Mr Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos, analysed their local authorities’ roles in welcoming the refugees. Mr Kopp highlighted that the German state is interested in integrating the refugees by helping them to learn the language and by supporting them financially. Mr Galinos described the difficult situation on the island of Lesvos, with more than 420,000 refugees coming to the small island, and he reflected on the solidarity of the local people who are helping the refugees. He added that Europe should have a clear and stricter stance towards the smugglers who take advantage of the refugees.
Ms Annette Gruttner, Press Officer for Bundesbank, presented German policies for the future of the monetary union and said that the solution is to strengthen the European currency.
Prof Eckart Stratenschulte, Director of the European Academy Berlin, presented the conclusions of the seminar and warmly thanked the participants for exchanging their opinions and knowledge, in an effort to improve relations and understanding.