German Ambassador Jens Ploetner discussed the refugee crisis, tourism, culture and the challenges of the local economy during a visit and multiple meetings in Lesvos on Wednesday.
In his talks with the regional governor of the Northern Aegean, Christiana Kalogirou, Ploetner was briefed about the management of refugees and migrants. Kalogirou stressed the need to strengthen the asylum service so that the assessment of applications in the first and second degree is concluded in a short period of time - which is the main condition for the decongestion of the islands.
"Given the noticeable change in the number of refugees and migrants arriving in the North Aegean Islands in the last month, this need becomes more urgent," she said.
Kalogirou also discussed the touristic activity this year in the region and ways to promote high quality products to the German market. They also focused on problems affecting the islands, such as the ferry and airline connection, the high cost of transport and the high youth unemployment.
The ambassador then met with island mayor Spyros Galinos, who presented the issues affecting the island, the full scope of the initiatives and actions taken by the municipality to tackle them and issues concerning the economy, growth, culture, tourism and exports to Germany. The mayor reiterated his call for the need to support the island on all levels.
Ploetner said the municipality and the people of Lesvos handled the crises that emerged in the best possible way and created important infrastructure to handle the refugees.
He said he would explore all possibilities for closer and more effective development of the island's ties with Germany, especially in the tourism sector. He also pledged to organize meetings on tourism and investment, following a suggestion by Galinos, pointing out that Lesvos is a safe and beautiful destination for attracting tourism all year round.
After the end of the meeting, the ambassador wrote in the visitors' book: "It's in very few places in Europe that you find such beauty, depth of history, warmth in people, like you find in Lesvos."
Ploetner also visited the Reception and Identification Center in Moria, the camp at Kara Tepe and met with representatives of the UNHCR and other NGOs operating on the island.