The European Council meeting is taking place at an extremely critical moment for developments in the wider Middle East. Greece’s position, which will be reflected today, is very clear and can be summarised in four central points:
Firstly, Israel has the right to legitimate self-defence, always in accordance with International and Humanitarian Law. It has been subjected to a terrorist attack of unprecedented ferocity and obviously has an obligation to react to protect the safety of its citizens.
Secondly, we attribute very great importance to the humanitarian crisis that is currently unfolding in the Gaza Strip. And that is why I believe it is absolutely imperative that humanitarian corridors be opened and, if necessary, that there be a “humanitarian pause”, so that civilians can be protected, so that the necessary supplies can reach those who are currently being crushed in the millstones of this conflict and so that we can protect as many human lives as possible.
I will not tire of saying that Hamas is a terrorist organisation and does not express the just demands of the Palestinian people.
Third point: our obligation is to ensure that this conflict does not escalate so as to go out of control and affect the Middle East.
Fourth point: Greece remains firmly committed to a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem. Only a political solution will ultimately be able to create conditions for long-term peace in the wider region. This afternoon, I will have the opportunity to speak to President Abbas by telephone and convey to him the firm positions of Greek foreign policy.
Apart from the Middle East issues, we will be dealing at the beginning of our meeting with the review of the European Union’s budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework. Greece comes to this debate with clear positions, which are fully coordinated with the European Commission’s proposal.
We are absolutely in favour of disbursing 50 billion to support Ukraine, but at the same time we are urgently calling for an increase in resources for migration. Greece is a frontline country and needs more European support to tackle the migration problem. At the same time, the resources for the European Union Solidarity Fund must also be increased. Greece was hit by natural disasters this summer and it is absolutely clear that the European Union has not allocated sufficient resources to be able to support the countries affected by the climate crisis. And that is why a budget boost will be needed to finance this fund.
Finally, I want to make a special reference to the meeting of European central bankers that took place in Greece yesterday. I had the opportunity to speak to the European central bankers and to present the very important progress that Greece has made over the years.
To talk about the investment grade that we have regained and the fact that everyone recognises this huge effort of the country to escape from the difficult years and to become a champion of European growth.
This is not just the effort of one government. It is an effort of the Greek people as a whole, as welcomed by Mrs Lagarde. Τhis gives us strength to be able to continue with even greater speed the necessary reforms, so that we can converge even faster with the European Union. To improve the disposable income of Greek citizens so that all of us, all Greeks can look to the future with more optimism.