Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis from Greece met with World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on 8 April 2016. Amanatidis expressed the Greek government’s warm thanks for the WCC’s cooperation and solidarity with Greece, and requested continued support for Greece’s efforts to face an unprecedented refugee crisis.
This was Amanatidis’s second visit to the Ecumenical Centre this year. A March visit followed a WCC/United Nations high level conference on the refugee crisis in Europe, which took place at the Ecumenical Centre on 18-19 January.
Tveit and Amanatidis agreed that the refugee situation is something that we must treat with the utmost seriousness.
“We need each other in today’s Europe,” said Tveit. “We need to work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East and safeguard religious minorities. We also see clear needs to draw up joint plans and to work on developing and strengthening interfaith dialogue.”
People are fleeing without food, water and somewhere to live, added Tveit. “These are people who have fled for their lives."
Churches are a source of strength, he said. “We have the opportunity to tackle the situation together and contribute to solidarity that transcends borders, to build bridges between various groups and to safeguard vulnerable people in society.”
In March 2016, Hieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, wrote a letter to WCC pleading for help so Greeks are not left alone to confront the massive refugee crisis facing Europe.
Archbishop Hieronymos appealed to international churches and the global community to urge the European Union to reconsider its decision to limit the refugees it is accepting.
The WCC is working with ecumenical and UN partners on the refugee situation within Europe and in the Middle East. A WCC media team will visit Greece 12-18 April.