Federal Councillor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider committed to strengthening cooperation on migration with Greece
Bern, 02.11.2023 - On 1 and 2 November, Federal Councillor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider visited Greece. Due to its location on Schengen’s external border, the country is facing ongoing challenges in the area of migration, which have an impact on the entire Schengen area, including Switzerland. The working visit by the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) served to reaffirm Switzerland's commitment to addressing these challenges while respecting human rights. Ms Baume-Schneider and her Greek counterpart, Minister of Migration and Asylum Dimitris Kairidis, launched a Swiss-funded project for asylum seekers and refugees in Athens. At the end of the trip, she also visited various facilities on the island of Lesbos.
Greece is an important partner for Switzerland in migration cooperation. Reforms and international support for Greece, including from Switzerland, have helped to improve its migration management, asylum procedures and reception conditions on the Aegean islands in recent years. Along with Italy and Cyprus, Greece is one of the partner countries that has been receiving funding from the migration framework credit of the second Swiss contribution since 2022. Under the programme, Greece will receive CHF 40 million over four years, up to 2026. Due to high migratory pressure, the country continues to face major challenges. Federal Councillor Baume-Schneider discussed these challenges with representatives of international organisations and NGOs in Athens on 1 November.
Supporting countries that are particularly affected
Switzerland's contribution to addressing the challenges associated with migration was also the focus of the bilateral talks between Ms Baume-Schneider and Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Dimitris Kairidis in the Greek capital on 2 November. Other topics included border management in compliance with human rights, secondary migration and the reform of the European asylum and migration system. Ms Baume-Schneider reiterated Switzerland's commitment to the reform, which aims among other things to support the countries on Schengen's external borders that are particularly affected by migration. At the same time, she stressed the importance of functioning Dublin procedures. Although push-backs to Greece have been suspended since 2011, talks are under way with both the European Commission and the Greek authorities on resuming the practice.
Swiss aid for refugees and vulnerable persons
Together with her Greek counterpart and the mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, Federal Councillor Baume-Schneider launched a joint project in support of the Athens Solidarity Center. The centre is run by a local organisation and provides refugees and asylum seekers with social assistance, legal advice, psychological support and help with job placement. The project shows the important role that civil society initiatives play in supporting refugees, said Ms Baume-Schneider. Switzerland is funding the project with a total of CHF 2.37 million over three years as part of the second Swiss contribution.
At the end of her trip, Federal Councillor Baume-Schneider visited the Mavrovouni reception centre on the Greek island of Lesbos to obtain a picture of the situation on the ground. Switzerland has provided humanitarian aid there in the form of drinking water, medical equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and other relief supplies. In addition, the FDJP head visited a protected area for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers co-funded by Switzerland, as well as a centre for vulnerable migrant women run by a Swiss NGO.
Address for enquiries
FDJP Communication Service, firstname.lastname@example.org, T +41 58 462 18 18
Federal Department of Justice and Police
Last modification 06.02.2024