BRUSSELS – “The special European Council meeting is taking place in the shadow of the devastating earthquake that hit Turkiye and Syria. I want to once again express my sorrow on behalf of the entire Greek people for the tragic losses. Let me repeat that Greece will stand by the two peoples, as it has already done by providing immediate assistance to locate survivors in the ruins, but also by providing humanitarian aid, in order to support the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people who will be left homeless over the next period. We will also be at the forefront [of efforts] for a donor conference here in Brussels, so that additional financial resources can be found to help rebuild the affected areas,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday upon his arrival at the European Council meeting in Brussels.
“The meeting will give us the opportunity to welcome Ukrainian President Zelenskiy and once again reiterate our unequivocal support for Ukraine’s struggle to defend its territorial integrity. The support of the EU, the entire European family, for this effort is a given, to enable the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government to negotiate a fair peace with the Russian invader, but on terms that [the Ukrainian government] itself sets,” he added.
Mitsotakis also referred to the two critical issues that, as he said, concern the European family:
“The first concerns the issue of migration. Especially undocumented migration, which has again shown strong rising trends in the last year. Greece will continue to fight so that the EU does more to protect its European borders. This is something that we already do as a country, but we look forward to even greater European support and will continue to push for additional European resources so that we have all the means at our disposal to effectively guard our borders. And when I refer to all means, I also refer to the need for the EU to use physical barriers, such as the fence in Evros. At the same time, it is a given that Europe should speed up return policies so that those who are not entitled to asylum return to their countries of origin.”
“At the same time, we will also discuss issues of European competitiveness, support of those technologies that will allow us to quickly make the green transition. It is a discussion that is becoming more and more imperative, after the decisions that were made in the USA.
“Greece supports in principle the relaxation of the state aid framework, but this must be done in a temporary and targeted way and not put countries that do not have enough fiscal space to support their national businesses in a difficult position. At the same time, Europe will continue to struggle on all fronts to improve its competitiveness. One way to do this is to change the way we use European funds.
“It is certain that at some point a discussion on additional financial resources, which will be necessary in order to support European competitiveness, will begin. In any case, Greece will continue to be one of the leaders in the absorption of existing European resources. We are leaders in the recovery fund, we are leaders in the absorption of European resources from the Cohesion Fund by the NSRF, and we will continue to move along this path in the next period as well.”