ATHENS – Russian President Putin’s unexpected invasion of Ukraine constitutes the undoing of peace and security, and introduces a new cold war with unpredictable ending, said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview to Alpha TV on Thursday.
Greece does not currently have communication with Russia at the highest level, noted the premier, and he added that the economic sanctions imposed on Russia have already severely affected its economy. Greek authorities did communicate with Russia as far as the departing consular staff and journalists from Mariupol were concerned, he added.
Sending military defense equipment to Ukraine was “morally correct, an imperative move as a nation,” noted the premier, as “we did the right thing, like the vast majority of European countries.”
There is “no question of Greece getting involved with its soldiers in this war,” he said: “if we are asked by NATO to send forces to neighboring countries, we will do so, but we have not been asked to do so, so far.”
The vast majority of Ukrainians of Greek descent chose to remain at their homes instead of fleeing, he noted, “and this is true for [Greeks in] both Odessa and Mariupol.” But this might change as the area is rapidly turning to a war zone. A ceasefire and the protection of civilians is most important right now, he observed.
Speaking of relations with Turkey, which with Greece comprises NATO’s southeastern flank, both could contribute to ease tensions, through a meeting between their leaders, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and himself, noted Mitsotakis, who said that he is open to a meeting with the Turkish President, “especially now.” He also expressed his certainty that Turkey will rethink its recent rhetoric towards Greece. There is currently “no audience for any type of revisionism, for any demilitarization. That’s why it’s important to be on the right side of history, with our allies,” he added. Greece and Turkey have a positive agenda in tourism and the environment, Mitsotakis said.
The Greek premier also spoke of renewable energy sources as “a one-way street” out of the crisis in energy prices. Natural gas “has always been a transitional-stage fuel,” the premier said. The path to follow towards making Greece an energy hub is reducing reliance on Russian natural gas, to turn Greece into “the gateway to Europe for hydrogen.” If Greece did not get any natural gas from Russia, it could have turned back to using more lignite for power production, “but lignite still remains incredibly expensive, and it is not the solution to our [energy] problem.”
Speaking of the energy price hikes, Mitsotakis said the Greek government will continue to support households and businesses throughout this energy crisis, by subsidizing electricity and gas bills. He noted that wages have remained at low levels because of the ten-year economic crisis of Greece, while rents have reached nearly half of a monthly wage, which is unacceptable.