Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) shakes hands with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during their meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Athens, Greece, on Sept. 6, 2018. Le Drian carried out a one-day working visit to Greece on Thursday to discuss with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other Greek officials issues concerning bilateral relations and European affairs, according to the Greek foreign ministry. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
By Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Greece and France have agreed to take initiatives to tackle a series of common challenges, with emphasis on the migration issue, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Thursday after talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Le Drian carried out a one-day working visit to Greece to discuss with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other Greek officials issues concerning bilateral relations and European affairs, according to the Greek Foreign ministry. The migration challenge was high on the agenda of the dialogue, it said.
"France always offers us solidarity generously without us having to ask. What we request from France is cooperation. We have discussed and agreed on a series of initiatives regarding also the migration issues and we will continue our dialogue during the upcoming UN General Assembly in a few days," Kotzias said during joint statements to the media with Le Drian after their meeting.
The two foreign ministers did not elaborate, but Le Drian stressed the need for a common European migration policy.
"We are also preparing for the Strasbourg summit where there will be a chance to put again on the agenda the migration issue which affects Greece so much. We share the vision for the creation of a common European migration policy which will be more effective and will better reflect the principle of solidarity," the French official said in the statements broadcast on Greek state broadcaster ERT.
"Greece and France also share at large extent similar views on European issues and I keep from our discourse the vision for a stronger and protective Europe as we both say," he added.
Greece has been at the forefront of the refugee-migrant crisis since 2015. Over a million people reached Greece to continue their journey to other European countries seeking refuge from warzones and extreme poverty.
Approximately 60,000 have remained stranded in the country after the closure of borders along the Balkan route to central Europe in March 2016.
Despite support given by other EU member states to Greece, as well as Italy, during the past two years to tackle the influx and the progress steps made to improve the living conditions for refugees and migrants in reception centers, Athens notes that problems remain in particular on the northern Aegean Sea islands where new arrivals are still reported every day.
The Greek government has requested a comprehensive approach to deal with the challenge more effectively and share the burden proportionally across Europe.