'European cities can play a central role in implementing integration policies'

“More than ever, European cities and local governments can play a crucial role in the protection of the rights of refugees and migrants, and their integration,” today said the Mayor of Athens Georgios Kaminis, addressing the Assembly at the opening of a joint debate on migration.

Mr Kaminis reviewed the measures taken by his Municipality these latest years in order to tackle the refugee crisis. “We currently provide housing in 300 apartments rented by the Municipality, to secure decent living conditions for the refugees. Using European funds and donations we have created a Coordination Center for our city to provide a variety of services addressed to the people in need, gradually focusing on integration,” he explained.

“The migration issue is here to stay and is far from being solved,” Mr Kaminis warned. “Experience has shown that every delay or refusal to face this reality turns into a structural problem that is much harder to solve,” he said, adding that it was a concern for all countries, equally. “The countries of entry cannot carry this heavy burden by themselves,” he stated.

He added that Europe needed to provide answers and practical solutions to the migration challenges by protecting refugees’ fundamental human rights and their right to build a new life in Europe.

“Migrant and refugee presence should be seen as a unique source of wealth for European cities, as a main component of our inclusive and dynamic development,” Mr Kaminis concluded.