Greek PM condemns EU mismanagement of refugee crisis, social costs of austerity at UNGA

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, October 1, 2015. © Mike Segar
Addressing UNGA, the Greek PM has condemned the building of “higher” walls in the EU as well as the mistreatment of refugees and migrants amid the crisis. He also spoke of “devastating social cost” his country is paying.

“We do not believe that the future of Europe or the future of our world can be built on ever-higher walls or children dying at our doorsteps,” said Alexis Tsipras at the United Nations General Assembly, before reminding the audience that “many of our ancestors were refugees and migrants.”

Tsipras said Greece was “taken aback” by “unprecedented migration flows,” with more than 300,000 people arriving at its borders, fleeing the hostilities in Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.

“Since the beginning of the year, over 300,000 people – mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – have entered the country with the aim of transiting to Western European countries. Greece –like all other European countries – was taken aback by this development. Nevertheless, the people of Greece showed their solidarity by providing food and shelter to the refugees,” he explained.

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The PM praised Greeks for their “solidarity” with migrants and refugees, and offering them food and shelter, but at the same time slamming racism and xenophobia also present in European society.

“We cannot allow racism and xenophobia to destroy our common principles,” he asserted.

Speaking in English, Tsipras also stressed the “devastating social cost” and the deterioration of the economy that Greece continues to shoulder after agreeing to a bailout in 2010, pointing out that some of the austerity measures should not have been implemented.

He added that after the third bailout was agreed this summer, his government would attempt to focus on growth-inducing measures “to protect the most vulnerable members of society,” as he repeated calls for debt relief.

“We have to realize that we need a global financial and economic system oriented to fostering national growth strategies and our post 2015 development agenda,” he stressed. “We have to discuss the issue of debt restructuring in all competent forums – including this one – in connection to developing growth and not austerity – strategies.”