BERLIN (AP) — Greece’s newly elected prime minister has said during a visit in Berlin that he hopes Germany will agree to start negotiations on war reparations.
After a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters “we hope there will be a positive response.” The previous Greek government delivered a formal request in April to enter talks on paying reparations Athens claims Greece is owed from both world wars.
Merkel didn’t mention the issue at the news conference, but Germany has said before that the question of World War II reparations to Greece had been settled. Greece estimates it could claim minimum reparations of 292 billion euros ($323 billion) for Germany’s World War II occupation and 9.2 billion euros ($10.19 billion) for World War I.
Ύστερα από μία 10ετή δοκιμασία η Ελλάδα κοιτάζει μπροστά. Γι’ αυτό ετοιμάζουμε, σε συνεργασία με τη Γερμανία, ένα μεγάλο επενδυτικό πρόγραμμα με έμφαση στην πράσινη ανάπτυξη που θα φέρει νέα κεφάλαια, θα δημιουργήσει θέσεις εργασίας και θα αναβαθμίσει τη διεθνή θέση της χώρας.
Posted by Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, August 29, 2019
BERLIN (ANA/F. Karaviti, S. Goutzanis) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis committed to deep structural reforms in Greece that will extend further than those implemented during the years of the economic crisis, he said at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.
“Changes in the economy will be made by us because they concern us,” Mitsotakis said, adding however that “we want Germany’s help.” He announced an extensive and joint investment program between Greece and Germany, calling it “an ambitious investment plan related to energy, green technology, renewable energy sources and waste management” that addresses concerns over climate change.
At the same time, he said, the two countries had outlined a roadmap of economic cooperation. “I want to change the framework of Greek-German relations,” Mitsotakis stressed, adding: “We are preparing with Germany a green development plan which we will present with the Chancellor in December.”
Θέλω να ευχαριστήσω την Καγκελάριο για τη θερμή υποδοχή και τη φιλική της ανταπόκριση σε όλα τα ζητήματα που αφορούν την Ελλάδα. Κοινές δηλώσεις με την Καγκελάριο της Γερμανίας Άνγκελα Μέρκελ.
Posted by Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, August 29, 2019
He emphasised that related to the plan are the dramatic moves to restructure the Public Power Corporation (PPC), the country’s electricity utility, and that sustainable development will be discussed at an open conference in January.
Mitsotakis that Greece wants German investment and to change the narrative about the country as it is “no longer a problematic country.”
Credibility first, lower primary surpluses later
Replying to a press question about primary surplus target obligations to its creditors, the Greek premier said, “I have already said that primary suprluses are high, but that Greece will meet the targets,” he said, referring to the targets for 2019 and 2020. He said these issues concern the institutions and will be discussed with the institutions, adding, “We will first gain political credibility as a reform government, and then we will discuss primary surpluses related to Greece’s debt.”
However, he added, the higher the rate of growth, the easier it will be to handle debt.
EU solidarity on migration issue
The Greek prime minister added that they had also discussed the refugee issue. He underlined that Greece will do everything in its power to return refugees to Turkey so that those who remain in Greece can enjoy good living conditions. He reiterated however that Greece’s borders are also Europe’s borders, and solidarity by EU countries is necessary.
“If we want free movement of people and the Schengen Treaty, Europe must show solidarity. There cannot be countries benefitted by Schengen that don’t participate in the distribution of refugees.” He also announced that the policies of granting asylum in Greece will change within the following months.
Commenting on the distribution of migrants to relieve the front-line countries, the German chancellor said, “I agree entirely with Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ viewpoint that we must reach a better result, and I am glad that European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen has placed the issue on her agenda. The issue will keep us busy for a long time still, but of course we in Europe must talk further.”
Acknowledging that the EU “is very far still from a permanent and just solution,” Merkel also noted the rise in the number of migrants during the summer and referred to the EU-Turkey agreement. “I had an exchange of views with Turkish President (Recept Tayyip) Erdogan on the agreement, which is something I do on a regular basis,” she said. “We will speak with Turkey again in relation to the help it needs, because Turkey has received very many refugees,” she added.
Referring to Turkey’s action in the East Mediterranean, Mitsotakis said that he and the German chancellor “spoke about Turkey and the Cyprus issue, and both Athens and Berlin agree that Turkey’s actions in the Cyprus EEZ are illegal.”
Furthermore, Mitsotakis reiterated his disagreement with the Prespes Agreement, which he said had serious flaws that could however be modified by North Macedonia’s EU accession process.
Asked to comment on German reparations for WWII Greece is requesting, he said the issue is difficult and sensitive. His government wants the issue to be resolved and that the previous government had filed a demarche with Germany inviting it to related negotiations. “We are awaiting a response and believe that the resolution will contribute to the further improvement of relations between the two countiries,” the premier said.
Wrapping up, PM Mitsotakis referred to New Democracy’s (ND) victory in the recent general elections and said that the results showed that Greece has opted for economic growth and condemned populism, “proving the maturity of the Greek people.”
Mitsotakis delivered the closing phrases in German, thanking Merkel and the German people for showing understanding for the Greek people, inviting Merkel to visit Greece.