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Greece Invites Ukrainian Refugees to Work in Tourism Sector

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A demonstration in support of Ukraine was held in Athens on Tuesday. Credit:Greek Reporter

After witnessing the brutality of the Russian invasion, Greece decided to show its solidarity with Ukrainian refugees who are streaming out of their country by opening up 50,000 jobs in the tourism sector to Greek expatriates and refugees.

Greek Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias, in a press release issued recently announced that there were over 50,000 job openings that were not covered by the domestic market last year.

“Could these people with dignity, with European contracts and collective labor contracts be absorbed and help in this sector?” he asked, inferring that these positions could be filled by Ukrainian refugees and Greek expats.

“We will not turn a blind eye” to Ukrainian refugees in Greece

Kikilias stated that flights from Russia to Europe will be banned for three months, until May 28; at this point, he added, there is still no information on how much Greek tourism will be affected by the invasion in the heart of Europe. He stressed that the Greek government is very concerned about the situation in Ukraine but will do their best, as always, to bring visitors, travelers, and tourists from all over the world to Greece this Spring and Summer.

The Minister also called what is happening in Ukraine “unacceptable,” expressing his hopes that negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will succeed.

“However, at this moment, what is paramount and which is in our minds and hearts, I believe of all Greeks, is the humanitarian approach to the situation,” the Minister said.

According to the European directive, the Minister added that the European Council of Internal Affairs is expected to determine the exact terms and conditions tomorrow, Thursday.

“Humanity and solidarity have not been lost in Greece. We will not turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. “We will accept Greek expatriates and Ukrainian refugees, providing them with care, residence and work permits,” Kikilias later told interviewers on SKAI radio.

Thursday meeting should decide on terms, conditions for refugees to work in Greece

Speaking of the 50,000 job openings that went unfilled last year in the tourism sector in Greece, he explained that such mechanisms as that which will be rolled out for Ukrainian refugees are provided for by PD. 80/2006, based on the European directive, while on Thursday, the European Council of Internal Affairs is expected to determine the exact terms and conditions.

“The images of our children, women, civilians, Greek expatriates are shocking. We are living in a humanitarian crisis and in this crisis we must engage in solidarity, humanity and love for these people.”

The United Nations has warned that there may be an estimated 4 million people fleeing the war in Ukraine, and the UNHCR has so far counted some 400,000 refugees fleeing to Romania, Poland and surrounding countries. “Some of them even reach Greece”, Kikilias noted, adding that not only “Our expatriates, our compatriots, our fellow believers, but all Ukrainians, all the people who leave their homes due to the war must be cared for in solidarity and be supported to the extent appropriate to us.”

Regarding the effects beyond the humanitarian crisis, Kikilias described the economic effects on the banking sector, energy and the economy in everything that has to do with gas and oil as incalculable at the moment.

Images from Ukraine “like a punch to the gut”

“Of course, all this affects the heart of our economy, which is tourism. A new reality is being created for Europe and the world. So, depending on the developments, preparations are being made to see how we can deal with any problem that may arise,” the Minister stated.

Speaking of the economic ramifications from the no-fly zone imposed on Russia and the other sanctions, Kikilias noted “Some days and weeks should be given in order for this to be captured,” pointing out that “there is all the other planet that wants to come to Greece. But we are concerned with doing our best to be able to bring visitors, travelers and tourists from all over the world to Greece.

“However, at this moment, what is paramount and which is in our minds and hearts, I believe of all Greeks, is the humanitarian approach to the situation. I hope and wish that the negotiations succeed and that logic prevails. The images we see in Ukraine are unacceptable, they are a punch to the gut.”

Slovakia admitted approximately 26,000 Ukrainians into its territory just the first four days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“From Thursday, February 24, 2022, from 6 am to Sunday, February 27, 2022, until 6 am, 25,935 people entered the territory of the Slovak Republic from Ukraine. Most people crossed the border crossings in Vyšné Nemecky (13,645) and Ubli (10,715),” the statement published by the Ministry reveals.

Related: EU Mulls “legitimate” Ukraine bid for membership

In this regard, its neighboring European Union countries, Romania, and Hungary offered their support, opening their doors for many citizens from Ukraine.

Similarly, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, putting aside their usual immigration rules, have flung open their doors to Ukrainian citizens.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson noted that EU countries are already hosting approximately 300,000 Ukrainian refugees, while this number is only expected to increase next week.

The majority of European countries, including the Netherlands, Norway, France, Switzerland, Ireland, and Latvia, are now advising their citizens against traveling to the conflict zone.


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