Remarks by the Prime Minister at the meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic in Athens

“February 24, 2022. This day, Madam President, has been a dark day for Europe. For the first time since World War II, there has been an organized and massive invasion in a European state. And following the drama and tragedy of the greatest war in human history, a united Europe was built upon two basic assumptions. The first one was that no European state would have hegemonic ambitions and the second one was the inviolability of borders. Unfortunately, both of these assumptions on which the whole edifice of European architectural security was built, were dispelled after yesterday’s operation, after Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

The European Union has demonstrated unity and solidarity, by deciding yesterday to impose very important sanctions, which will hit the Russian economy in a substantial way. There is no doubt, however, that we are at the beginning of a new era and that the geopolitical turmoil that will ensue will also have economic consequences. But the price of freedom, for which we must fight, is very high. In the 201 years of independence and struggle for our freedom, our country has always been on the right side of history, and it will do the same now.

At the moment, we should be ready for major fluctuations in the energy market. This is why I am glad that my proposal for the Commission to work on and submit proposals immediately on how we can support consumers and businesses at the European level has been accepted. We look forward to discussing these proposals at the next European Council.

It is also clear that those European leaders -including me, including Greece- who spoke out strongly about the need for a European strategic autonomy, were right. The need for Europe itself to have a strong deterrent capacity, but also for the Member States to invest more in their national defense, is now an inescapable reality and will also constitute a European priority. After all, we have already begun to do so.

Furthermore, as European countries, and as open, liberal, pluralistic democracies, we must be fully vigilant about the disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks that we may encounter. The price in order to protect freedom of expression cannot become an alibi to allow such an intrusion into the very democratic dialogue of our countries.

Finally, Greece will stand next to the Greek communities of Ukraine, especially in Mariupol, and in case there are Greeks who want to leave, we will welcome them with open arms. But at the same time we must support the other countries of Eastern Europe which will receive strong refugee flows. As these countries helped us when Greece faced an attack on our borders in Evros, in the same way we must stand by them and offer them humanitarian aid, so that they can receive the tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of refugees who may seek shelter in these countries.

Greece, Madam President, is a country that has always fought for the enforcement of International Law. Consequently, this crisis highlights with even greater intensity the need to defend an international system of rules, which will have, at its core, the inviolability of borders and International Law. This is what we have done, this is what we are doing and this is what we will continue to do with even greater intensity.

Let me also say that I will inform the national delegation about the developments in Ukraine next Tuesday morning in an extraordinary session, which I have already requested from the Speaker of Parliament. I hope and wish that there will be absolute national solidarity so that we can face this great challenge, because it is not really the time, in such a critical, global geopolitical conjuncture, to let any micropolitical interests or aspirations dominate the public debate. I ask all Greeks and all political parties for unity, composure, prudence, but also self-confidence”.