“I want to define Greece as a country leaving the crisis in the past, actively involved in the European Union’s agenda – looking forward – and a country that will grow, we firmly believe, at a rate that will be above the European Union average, a country that attracts investments” Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview on Politico.
In recent years, whenever Greece was at the forefront of the debate “it was usually not for a positive reason. The hope is that we have left these days behind. I believe it is important for Europe to recognize that a moderate center-right party has managed to defeat populism.” the Prime Minister said.
“We managed to leave the Golden Dawn out of Parliament, so there is no extremist right, no neo-fascist party represented in the Greek Parliament. I believe that this is a ray of hope, not only for Greece but for the whole of Europe” Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
When asked if he intends to put forward proposals at the EU summit, although this is his first time attending, he replies: “This is my intention, even on issues that I consider very important for the European agenda, but go beyond our natural role as a pillar of stability in the region . Obviously we have to take an active part”
In this context, he notes that the European Union must commit itself to a new Green Agreement, stressing that “these are issues that are of great concern to Greece and we intend to play an important role”.
The Prime Minister points out that the Western Balkans, Turkey, and Immigration are issues of the utmost importance for Greece, since they are linked to its neighborhood. “Greece is at the crossroads of many of the challenges facing the European Union. We are concerned about the increasing number of refugees and immigrants crossing the Aegean in recent months. We are very concerned about what is happening in Syria. We were one of the first European countries to condemn Turkey’s illegal drilling in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone. There is, therefore, a great deal of turmoil in our region, which is also compounded by the progress – or non-progress – of the accession negotiations with our northern neighbors. There are many issues where Greece can add value to the discussions.”
Mr Mitsotakis called on EU leaders to “take a clear stand that the European Union must unanimously condemn what is happening in Syria”, while the European Council should “reaffirm its statement at the level of the General Affairs Council on a framework for targeted sanctions against those involved in illegal drilling within the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.”
“I believe that there is a general consensus among the member states that these two decisions need to be taken.”
“It is unacceptable for Turkey to use immigration as a lever and to pressure the European Union to receive more financial aid.”
“We have given Turkey a lot of money. I think there can be a debate on supporting people seeking refuge in Turkey, but this cannot be discussed in a context where Turkey threatens to open its borders and flood Europe with immigrants and refugees. ”
“I will argue that the European Union needs a ‘fire plan’ or Plan B to ensure that what is now an emergency is not turned into a general crisis,” the Prime Minister said, adding that he would put the issue at the leaders’ dinner during the first day of the Summit Meeting.
“We are reaching our limits in terms of what we can do to manage the number of refugees and immigrants arriving in Greece,” he said, adding that the Greek Government has already taken steps to speed up the process of processing asylum applications and of returns to Turkey. Turkey.
“However, at the same time, we are facing increased numbers of refugees and immigrants exhausting the capacity of my country. Therefore, it is clear that on this front we need more European solidarity.”
When asked about the controversy over whether to open talks on welcoming Albania and Northern Macedonia in the European Union, the Prime Minister responded that “we have always said that we want to attach the Western Balkan countries to the European Union. We are fully aware that more progress needs to be made in both countries but in principle we support this process, under certain conditions.”
What are these conditions? “We must be absolutely sure that Northern Macedonia complies with the terms of the Agreement (with Athens).” As for Albania, it called for better protection of the rights of minorities.
“I think we have to send a message to these countries that, once all the conditions are met, they can look forward to joining the European family at some point.”
Last but not least, The Prime Minister is asked about his father Konstantinos Mitsotakis and replies: “My father signed the Maastricht Treaty, so he was one of those who signed a Treaty that paved the way for Europe as we know it today.” “Konstantinos Mitsotakis was a dedicated European who experienced the horror of World War II and saw what our generation tends to lose in all this debate about the technical details of how the European Union works. That the European Union, as a whole, despite its difficulties and problems, constitutes a remarkable achievement that has brought back from its ashes a continent that was called “dark” continent because of the two devastating wars. The level of prosperity and transnational cooperation that we enjoy today in Europe is something that, if we look at the big picture, we should greatly appreciate.”