Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met today in Maximos Mansion with the Prime Minister of Romania Nicolae Ionel Ciucă.
During the meeting, the willingness of the two sides to further upgrade bilateral relations was reaffirmed. The two leaders discussed issues of coordination and cooperation, with the objective of tapping into existing capacities, especially in the field of energy.
The prospects of energy cooperation were underlined, as Greece due to its position, infrastructure and interconnection capacity, emerges as a country – energy transportation hub in the wider region of Eastern and Central Europe, contributing in this way to the energy security of Europe.
They also discussed the economic consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, focusing on the prices of energy and food security. Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated the preparedness of the Greek side to contribute with Greek ships for the export of grains from the ports of Ukraine in the Black Sea.
Moreover, they exchanged views on developments in Ukraine and the eastern Mediterranean. The two Prime Ministers agreed on the need to give impetus to the European perspective of the Western Balkans, by coordinating their actions towards this direction.
The Prime Minister thanked his Romanian counterpart for the tangible support of Romania in last year’s fires, as well as for sending to our country, at the beginning of July, 28 firefighters from Romania and eight special vehicles. Mr. Ciucă even expressed Romania’s readiness to assist Greece with more firefighters, if necessary.
The Prime Minister’s complete statement follows:
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I welcomed today in Athens the Prime Minister of Romania, my good friend Nicolae, who reciprocated my visit to Bucharest a short time ago. To be precise it was one day before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Back then, like we did today – along with my friend Nicolae, we reaffirmed the exceptional bilateral relations of our countries, and our common faith in the principles of International Law, democracy, equality before the law and the respect of human rights.
Besides, Greece and Romania apart from being neighbors in the Balkans, are also partners in the European Union and allies in NATO, and this has been highlighted in the recent Summit in Madrid, where our countries emerged as two of the main pillars of stability and peace in the eastern and southeastern flank of the Atlantic Pact.
Our peoples also stand side by side against the threats of the climate crisis that concern us all. We remember with gratitude the contribution of the Romanian firefighters, last summer, when they helped my country to tackle the unprecedented forest fires, showing professionalism and self-sacrifice. That experience turned into a plan and today it has become an organized cooperation. The first firefighters from Romania, along with their vehicles, are already by our side this year, in the context of a new European programme that we inaugurated, which is proof that such fertile/effective/productive international actions are recommended in cases of civil protection.
And I would like to thank Prime Minister Ciucă, who as a former general himself, definitely understands the significance of operational preparedness against asymmetric risks. Let me thank him once again, because he assured me today that in case we need more assistance/reinforcements from Romania – something we hope will not be needed – they will swiftly be at our disposal.
We also agreed to upgrade our cooperation in energy, where Greece has a leading role to play as an entrance hub, but also as a natural gas transportation hub, obviously covering its national needs, but also supplying the wider region and of course Romania. Let me point out that this is not just a commercial choice. This is an act of responsibility, solidarity with a wider range, which signals a medium and long-term cooperation between our countries in the sector of energy, which we hope will soon be formalized with the signing of a relevant memorandum of understanding between the two Ministers of Energy, who are with us today.
Tomorrow we inaugurate the IGB pipeline, taking yet another step in the creation of new infrastructures and alternative routes. I am aware of the great importance that you attribute to this project. We have made a great effort to keep our commitment, so that it is ready by mid-year, which is extremely important for both Bulgaria and Romania, as we acknowledge the role that these infrastructures can play to swiftly end the dependence of Europe from Russia, which unfortunately geostrategically instrumentalizes its energy sources. In fact, accompanying this strategy with the tension -unfortunately- of the war, of this illegal invasion which violates international legality and restores raw revisionism to global reality.
We discussed these developments with my friend, the Prime Minister, always looking for ways to support Ukraine which is defending itself. And of course, among them the possibilities of finding alternative ways to export and transport Ukraine’s large agricultural production to international markets. Of course, Romania has an important role to play in this, due to its particularly important geographical position on the border with Ukraine.
And I’m glad, because on all these issues, we have found a convergence of opinions, but also a common goal. We are coordinating our actions, moreover, in all international fora, in NATO and the European Union.
Specifically regarding the European Union, let me say once again that Greece unreservedly supports the efforts of Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen Zone and I believe that we see developments in the Western Balkans through the same lens, we share the same concern in order to keep alive the European perspective of the Western Balkans. It is a prospect of security and economic progress for our entire peninsula.
Finally, I once again informed my friend, the Prime Minister, about the continuous Turkish provocation, the intense rhetoric, the aggressive moves of Ankara that challenge international treaties and Greek sovereign rights. I reiterated once again that our country adheres to the path of dual and decisive readiness, on the one hand to defend its national interests without making any concessions at all, but at the same time to welcome a bona fide dialogue always within the framework of International Law and good neighborly relations that must always determine the way neighboring countries talk to each other.
I conclude by noting that the good atmosphere of today’s meeting is illustrated by a symbolic initiative of special importance: The Exhibition “Greece – Romania, 140 years of diplomatic relations”, at the Byzantine Museum. It is the result of close cooperation between the Romanian Embassy in Athens and the historical and diplomatic archive of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
My friend Nicolae, thank you for being in Athens today – even for a very short time – and returning my visit, and I look forward to an even closer and much more substantial cooperation, especially in the field of energy. In the short term – as I said – we will help Romania in its effort to ensure diversification of energy sources, but I believe that in the medium and long term these energy flows can be reversed, as your country also, invests significantly in the discovery of new natural gas fields, but also in the field, potentially, of electricity there may be very significant scope for new, fruitful cooperation.