Visiting French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Friday morning had a meeting with asylum seekers due to be relocated to France later this month, at a central Athens hotel where the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had organised French lessons and cultural orientation seminars for 111 refugees.
According to sources, Cazeneuve said that France had a tradition for receiving refugees and remains dedicated to the right of asylum for many centuries.
“It is a part of [France’s] values, a part of its history and it insists on remaining true to what it has always been and to the message that it would like to send to the people and citizens that have found themselves persecuted at some point in their lives,” the French premier was quoted as saying.
He also expressed hope that Europe will ensure a programme for the relocation of those that arrived in Greece “so that Europe’s solidarity in the face of so much hardship can be realised.”
The French premier was accompanied by Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, who highlighted that France was continuing to offer solidarity and to implement European rules for the relocation of refugees, in spite of being mercilessly targeted by repeated terrorist strikes.
Mouzalas said he had agreed with Cazeneuve during their discussion on the measures that could protect the security of both Europe and of refugees and migrants, including a position that illegal migration must be eradicated while increasing the legal means and routes of migration.
A total of 360 refugees are due to be relocated to France in the last week of March as part of the EU relocation programme. France has so far accepted 2,842 refugees from Greece since the start of the programme.