Statement by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after his meeting with his Romanian counterpart Nicolae-Ionel Ciucă in Bucharest

Mr Prime Minister, dear Nicolae, it is a great pleasure for me to be in Romania today. A friendly country with which we are neighbors, we are partners, we are allies with relations that -as we have discussed- are lost in the depths of the centuries and with a milestone, of course, the first sparks of the struggle for Greek Independence that ignited here in Romania. Like the action of our national benefactors, who have excelled in Romania, leaving us behind a heavy legacy.

As you have realized, we have had the opportunity to discuss many issues related to our bilateral relations. However, we have devoted a considerable amount of time to international security issues, as my visit unfortunately takes place in the shadow of the Russian Federation’s decision, made two days ago, to recognize the unilateral declaration of independence from the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Also, in the shadow of Russia’s decision to send troops to Ukrainian territory.

These are actions that blatantly violate International Law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the Minsk agreements. They are expressions of revisionism that endanger global security and stability.

And from here, I would like to reiterate that the fundamental principle of Greece’s foreign policy is the respect of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of all states. We, therefore, condemn unequivocally- and in this we are completely aligned with our friend, the Prime Minister of Romania – initiatives that run counter to these values. As member states of the European Union and of NATO, we are in total coordination with our partners so that our reaction is not only common but also substantial.

Greece has an additional reason to monitor with great concern the developments in eastern Ukraine because, as you know, this is a region where a Greek community lives, whose history goes back more than 20 centuries. Therefore, our main concern is to support our expatriates in Ukraine and this is the reason why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains vigilant in this direction.

Recent events, of course, raise issues of international security and issues of questioning of borders and treaties, to which the world community and, above all, our European family are urged to respond to. After all, in Europe we know very well that violence and instability have never favored anyone.

At the same time, additional challenges arise that we have had the opportunity to discuss, such as energy efficiency. In our country we have taken all the necessary measures so that the supply of the country with natural gas remains safe and continues smoothly.

However, I believe we need to draw the first three conclusions from this crisis. The first is that the transition to a green economy must not be slowed down. It must be accelerated in such a way that it does not hit the weakest households and European businesses.
The cheapest source of energy today is green energy. And it is our duty to expand not only our energy sources in terms of production, but also our short-term, medium-term gas supply, reducing our dependence on Russia. Here, too, there is considerable scope for cooperation with a country like Romania, which itself produces natural gas and has the potential to produce even more in the future.

The second conclusion is that – in the short-term – it is very important at European level to have exceptional support measures for European consumers and European companies, as all countries today, in one way or another, subsidize consumers so that they can deal with large increases in energy prices.

We need a European response to a problem that all countries, all Member States face. Each country has its own way of dealing with this problem, but for all countries this is a problem which is extremely distressing at financial level and I intend to raise this issue at the next European Council.

And the third conclusion, of course, is that this whole debate – which is already taking place at EU level and will continue to preoccupy us at the next European Summits – on the issues of Europe’s strategic autonomy, this debate is, unfortunately, becoming more and more relevant.

Let me now continue with the bilateral issues which we had the opportunity to discuss in detail with my friend, the Prime Minister. I would like to reiterate that Athens strongly supports Bucharest’s request concerning Romania’s accession to the Schengen area. This is something that needs to be done and the benefits from this decision will be very important for the Romanian society and the Romanian economy.

We had the opportunity to discuss developments in the Western Balkans. We fully agree that the Western Balkans, all Western Balkans countries, belong to Europe and we can join forces to facilitate this path.

We agreed to join forces so that we can convene, as soon as possible, the first Intergovernmental Conference with Albania and North Macedonia.

And of course I had the opportunity to thank the Romanian Prime Minister for the steady support that Romania provides to Greece concerning our national issues. I had the opportunity to brief him on the ongoing Turkish violations in the Aegean, in the Eastern Mediterranean. And (I had the opportunity) to reiterate Athens’ clear position: Athens keeps the door of threats always shut and the window of dialogue always open.
As the Romanian Prime Minister said, the tool to resolve our differences is through International Law. It is not through historical revisionism, it is not through the projection of power. This is not the way to guarantee stability and prosperity in our region.
We also had the opportunity to discuss issues related to our financial cooperation. Our bilateral trade with Romania is estimated around 2.2 billion euros but we can work to increase it even more. We have important Greek companies that operate in Romania and that want to invest even more in your country.

And we have, of course, significant flows of visitors, primarily from Romania to Greece, which we wish to increase. We want more Romanian visitors to our homeland. We want to reach again and also exceed the 1 million ceiling of visitors that we had in 2019.
Greece has become a country that is open to visitors not only during summer months but throughout the year. And – I believe – our competent Ministers have a plan on how we can strengthen our cooperation in the tourism sector.

Finally, but very importantly, I would like to express my satisfaction for the fact that we have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on issues of Civil Protection. I do not forget, Mr. Prime Minister, that Romania was one of the first countries to respond to our request last summer, sending firefighters who set upon and faced extremely difficult wildfires with self-sacrifice but also with professionalism.

And I must tell you that we still keep those memories of the presence of Romanian firefighters in our homeland. That presence triggered us to be able to improve the level of our political cooperation on civil protection issues. So that we can have a higher presence of Romanian firefighters on a more regular basis in our country. But also to work together in the context of the debate at European level on how Europe can strengthen the rescEU mechanism so that we can have more effective cooperation and sharing of air means and other means of firefighting at European level.

I want you to know that the Greek society, the Greeks, really appreciated what you did, Mr. Prime Minister, last summer.

Thank you again for the warm hospitality, for the productive discussion we have had and I look forward to continuing this discussion during the formal dinner in a few hours.