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Jean Asselborn and Dimitris Avramopoulos in Athens for the first relocation of asylum seekers from Greece

Published Thursday November 05 2015

On 4 November 2015, Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Minister of Immigration and Asylum of Luxembourg, went to Athens with Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, to meet the first 30 asylum seekers to benefit from the relocation mechanism from Greece agreed by European ministers in September under the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.

From Athens airport, together with the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, and the Delegate Greek Minister for Migration Ioannis Mouzalas, they attended the departure of the first group of asylum candidates to Luxembourg, which will process their asylum application.

During a press conference organised following the departure to Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn expressed his desire for the families hosted to 'have the possibility to start a new life in our country, to live in peace and security, and that one day, should they so wish, to also have the possibility to return to their country'.

The Minister also noted that the Luxembourg Presidency has convened another extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 9 November 2015 dedicated to the implementation of the measures agreed in July and September. This visit to Greece was an opportunity to prepare for it with the Greek leaders. For this implementation, 'we need infrastructures, staff and we need to act very fast before it's too late', said the Minister.

'Walls, fences, and barbed wire cannot be the image of Europe in the future' Jean Asselborn continued. 'We need responsibility and solidarity to respond to the difficult challenge of migration, in arrival, transit and destination countries alike', he stated. Jean Asselborn stressed that the relocation of 30 asylum seekers to Luxembourg was only 'a start', but was a 'very important step in terms of the capacity to resolve the migration problem'. 'We need to make changes fast', he concluded, 'if we manage it, solidarity and responsibility will be strong in the EU, but if we fail, the values of the Union will be somewhat destroyed'.

The Minister Asselborn and the Commissioner Avramopoulos had meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, and the Delegate Greek Minister for Migration Ioannis Mouzalas for an overview of the management of the migration crisis on the Aegean islands and the mainland, and on the functioning of the centers of first asylum to migrants ("hotspots") in order to make them fully operational and increase the rythme of relocations.

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