George Papandreou, former Greek prime minister and president of the Socialist International said Europe’s refugee crisis will continue into the future, in a conference organized at Istanbul Bogazici University on Monday.
He said, “We will be seeing more and more refugee problems around the world and Europe is a destination and will be a destination [for refugees] whether you want that or not."
Papandreou said that refugees also come from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and many African countries not just from Syria and added that the next refugee flow could come from Yemen which has been suffering from a civil war between government forces and rebels.
“So, we have to sit down and see how to move and really deal with this,”
On Nov. 24 the European Union and Turkey reached an agreement for a refugee action plan.
According to the plan, Turkey will tighten security checks on its border against refugee activities in exchange for visa freedom and speeding-up EU membership talks between the EU and Turkey.
Papandreou welcomed the agreement as “a very important step."
Turkey is hosting nearly 2.3 million Syrian refugees so far and more than 750,000 refugees have crossed the Turkish border to reach Europe this year alone.
Papandreou also talked about the Cyprus issue, which is a sensitive topic in Turkish-Greek relations, he said that a solution in the Mediterranean island “would be an example” for divided societies.
He said,“We can show that there are other ways which are much better for societies."
The island of Cyprus is divided between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, following a Turkish military intervention on July 1974, in response to a coup carried out by the Greek junta that aimed to annex the island for Greece, Greek junta carried out serial killings of Turkish population on the island.
However, in 1983,Turkish Cypriots declared the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), but they have not gained international recognition.
Efforts led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan came close to reuniting the island in 2004, ahead of the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government’s acceptance into the EU, but it failed when majority of the Greek Cypriots voted against a reunification in a referendum conducted on both sides of the island.