Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ Press Conference upon the completion of the informal European Council in Prague

Dimitris Gkatsios (ERT): Mr President, good evening. This is Dimitris Gkatsios from ERT. The Greek proposal on a natural gas cap is one of the main ones on the table of deliberations. I would like to ask you whether you believe that we are getting close based on the landmark of the 20th and 21st of October, in Brussels, and (I would also like to ask you) which other proposals are being discussed. Thank you.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: A common place is being formed in the Council that there needs to be a common, drastic European intervention so that natural gas prices will fall and the proposals processed by the European Commission are moving in this direction.

I am confident that in the next European Council, and after the relevant processing on the level of the Council of Energy Ministers, we will be able to make a decision about such an intervention.

I am glad because after the persistent effort of the Greek government and the specialists who advise us, these proposals have now matured, even with delay. This is something that must have been done earlier, but even with a delay Europe must do the right thing: united, we must leverage this great force that we have as a European family, bring the prices of natural gas down, ensuring at the same time the security of supply.

Giannis Christakos (MEGA): Mr President. This is Giannis Christakos from MEGA. At the meeting of the European Political Community, we saw the intervention and behavior of the Turkish President, Mr Erdoğan. We saw some reactions by the Greek side. I would like you to share with us the atmosphere among your counterparts. There were another 43 leaders who were here and obviously you had the chance to talk to them. What impression have they formed from his presence here, in the last 24 hours?

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I don’t have much to add, Mr Christakos. I will not be talking on behalf of the Turkish President. I will repeat what I said in the morning. The Greek government and me personally are not going to leave any provocation unanswered.

I believe that those who participated in the European Political Community saw this exchange and have drawn their own conclusions. As far as I am concerned, I think that this exchange of views was useful, this exchange which took place in front of my counterparts in the European Council and also in front of the leaders who participate in this new and – I think – successful experiment of the European Political Community.

Maria Psara (STAR): Mr President. This is Maria Psara from STAR. Yesterday’s answer by Mr Erdoğan to your question on what he means when he says that will come over at night was ambiguous. How do you interpret it? Do you consider it to be a threat against Greece?

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Given that, from what I heard through the translation, the answer was ambiguous, I will opt for the positive interpretation, Ms Psara, and I will say that no, it was not a threat against Greece. I cannot imagine that we will continue in this atmosphere.
I will keep another statement made by President Erdoğan that Turkey has no aspiration over the national sovereignty of any country. I keep this statement as a comment in the positive direction. I hope that this (positive direction) will continue and that the unacceptable rhetoric of questioning the national sovereignty of our country will end in regards to the islands of Eastern Aegean.

Giannis Kantelis (SKAI): Mr President, we had in the past witnessed Greece asking for sanctions on Turkey’s stance in the European Council. Is this on the table? Is this something that you are planning to pose in the next Summit? And let me point out that yesterday the leader of the main opposition party, in his meeting with Mr Borrell, posed the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Mr. Kantelis, you know – and you have attended several European Council meetings – that there is a framework of European Council decisions that enable the European Council to follow this path in the event that Turkey crosses certain red lines. So, this framework is there and we hope that this will never have to be implemented.

Beyond that, I also want to highlight another dimension of the discussion regarding sanctions: according to the 8th package of sanctions, which have already been approved by the European Council and the European Commission, there is for the first time the possibility of imposing sanctions on Turkish entities and individuals deemed to be in violation of sanctions against Russia by exporting European products to Russia through Turkey.

I believe that this is something important in terms of the intervention of the European Union so that this reality, which continues, does not exist: to have a large country that essentially bypasses the sanctions, at the expense of all the rest, countries of the European Union, which apply the sanctions. It’s a step in the right direction.

Sofia Fasoulaki (OPEN): Good evening, Mr. President. This is Sofia Fasoulaki from OPEN. I wanted to ask you, after the episode that, as we learned, took place between us and the Turkish President, do you think that the pressure of the last few months between the two of you and between Greece and Turkey has somehow eased? Could yesterday’s incident be considered as a “pressure valve”? Thank you.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I would hope so, because – you know – it is good sometimes for these things to be said publicly, at least publicly in front of others, and that Turkey’s views are not presented only in the context of monologues.

Perhaps the Turkish President is not used to receiving answers to the views he expresses. But this is how we work in the European family, this is also how the European Political Community works.

I also want to believe, Ms. Fasoulaki, that possibly this -let’s not call it an “episode”, let’s say this exchange of views- can act as a relief and that we can, finally, initiate a de-escalation of the verbal tensions so that we can finally sit down – as I have said many times – in order to discuss some confidence-building measures, but also to be able to return to dialogue as regards the one and main issue which has historically been our main difference, and that concerns the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Spiros Mourelatos (ANT1 and ANA-MPA news): This is Spiros Mourelatos from ANT1 and ANA-MPA news. Mr. President, I want to tell you that some speculated before the Prague Summit that there was a window for a meeting with Mr. Erdoğan. This did not happen, instead we learned about yesterday’s episode and the provocative behavior of the Turkish President. I want to ask you, following that, what are your feelings after these two days in Prague. I want to ask if we are closer to a warm episode or a de-escalation. And since the camera “caught” you – if you’ll allow me the term – talking to Ms. von der Leyen this morning and some other leaders and we saw you telling them what happened after Mr. Erdoğan’s provocative behavior, I want to know if you told them anything more than what the camera and the sound could capture. Thank you very much.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Sure I told them, but we don’t need to share this publicly.

I will repeat again that everyone who participated in this exchange of views yesterday, I believe, formed an opinion about who is provoking, about who is adopting an argument which certainly does not fit – I would say – in today’s geopolitical context. This revival of historical fantasies, of old empires, this – I would say – actual disregard for International Law, these are concepts that I don’t think fit in today’s world.

And I firmly believe that if Turkey really wants to have – as it claims it wants, as Mr. Erdoğan told us yesterday – a productive and meaningful relationship with the European Union, a relationship that we would also like, it should have realized by now that it has to change course. Turkey will find no one, no ally within the European family to support it as long as it continues on this path.

Thank you very much.