Before their meeting in Champs-Élysées, the Prime Minister made the following statement:
Dear President, dear Emmanuel, it is a great joy for me to be in Paris again, at a time of double importance for our two countries in the midst of an energy and inflationary attack against our continent due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But also, as you mentioned, almost a year following the signature of the multi-level partnership agreement between Greece and France on the defense, geopolitical, strategic, economic partnership of our two states. It is an agreement that – as we have discussed many times – serves at the same time the common objective of Europe’s strategic autonomy.
The links of history and culture that have been binding us for two centuries now keep multiplying. They are forged on many levels, in the major political choices, as well as in everyday life and in the management of natural disasters.
Last year Paris helped my country decisively in dealing with the fires in Greece. This year, it was Athens’ turn to show its own solidarity in similar battles that France gave against the consequences of the Climate Crisis. And I think that we both express our satisfaction over the fact that the European Civil Protection and Solidarity Mechanism, rescEU, seems to be finding its way. We will both work to make sure that we reinforce this Mechanism even more.
Our two countries are in coordination today also in the field of defense against the surge in international energy prices. Greece was one of the first countries that supported a more dynamic Εuropean intervention in the wholesale natural gas market, as well as the direct decoupling of natural gas prices from electricity prices, and we even agree and launch this measured energy consumption from the part of the state and from the part of the citizens, energy restraint (sobriété énergétique) as we both call it in our countries. Of course, both countries are launching their own support programs so that our citizens, our households, our businesses, are not unprotected against the large increases in energy prices.
I think that the European Union now has the opportunity to respond in a coordinated manner to Moscow’s attempt to turn energy into a weapon, into a lever of disruption and political instability in European countries.
We will also discuss, of course, about the war in Ukraine. Greece and France, from the first moment, were unreservedly on the side of the defender. We were on the side of freedom, on the side of International Law. Not only because the inviolability of borders and all European values are tested there, but also because, in the 21st century, we should not legitimize, under any circumstances, a fait accompli of authoritarian despotism.
A fait accompli that could willingly be imitated tomorrow by any local troublemaker in other regions of our planet. Besides, my country is well aware of neighboring threats, that is why I will share with President Macron thoughts on Turkey’s continuing provocative stance in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
I want to thank, once again, the French President for his clear support regarding Greece’s fair stance. And I have said before that our answer towards this aggressiveness is preparedness.
I want to point out that the first French Rafales are already flying in the Greek skies and the first two Belharra frigates are already being built in the shipyards in Lorient. But our weapons are not our sole shield. Our shield is also our strong alliances. However, above all, we have on our side the force of legitimacy and the force of our arguments.
This is why we are waiting for those who threaten us that they will suddenly show up overnight on our islands, we are waiting for them in daylight. When it is clear to see who is right and who has real power on their side.
Therefore, our position remains still, that we keep our doors closed to challenges but we always keep the window open to dialogue and discussions. Greece is not only a force of deterrence, it is above all a force of cooperation.
Our agenda will, of course, also include Migration, the situation in the Mediterranean, with a particular focus on what is happening in Libya, issues on which our positions are common, but obviously also our bilateral relations, as well as the institutional changes that must strengthen Europe’s role on a world map where geopolitical interests are constantly changing.
In conclusion, if I could sum up the spirit of our meeting I would say three words: Together more powerful.
Let me conclude by thanking, once again, the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, for the invitation, the warm welcome – which is always the case – and above all for his Europea vision, his adherence to democracy and also his constant support to Greece.
Υour presence and actions honor France and Europe – and if I may – me personally, as you have been honoring me with your precious friendship for a long time. Thank you, dear Emmanuel, for your warm welcome here, in the City of Lights.