ATHENS — Meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Athens on Friday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis underlined that Greece was now a very different country to the one she had visited roughly 10 years ago.
“It is not a source of deficits. It is a modern state,” Mitsotakis underlined during joint statements with the German chancellor after a meeting between delegations of the two sides in the Greek capital.
Mitsotakis began by referring to the German Chancellor’s “16-year journey as the leader of Germany,” noting that it surpassed that of Konrad Adenauer and approached that of Helmut Kohl.
“As the 8th Greek Prime Minister to meet dear Angela, I can dare a brief review,” the prime minister said, noting that he wants to “talk about her stamp and about today’s Greece, which is very different from the one she has known over the last decade.”
Mitsotakis noted that “Europe and Greece were tested by mistaken decisions that came back to turn against them, disguised as populism and demagogy.”
“And you yourself admitted that you asked alot of the Greeks,” said the prime minister, adding that “fortunately neither cheap austerity nor the cheap nationalist slogans endured. Community solidarity and true patriotism were ultimately victorious.”
“Merkel was the voice of reason and stability. At times unfair, but decisive, as in 2015, when she refused the expulsion of Greece from Europe,” Mitsotakis added.
“As Europe progresses with [unanimous decisions], these are built on agreements, and therefore on convergences,” he said, describing the chancellor’s change of heart on the issue of the Recovery Fund as “courageous”.
“I had the opportunity to see all this at the summits where the Chancellor not only suggests solutions but shapes them,” Mitsotakis said, and highlighted the role played by Greece in the EU’s battle against Covid. “Greece proposed the certificate, organised a vaccination programme, pioneered in the creation of the Fund,” he pointed out.
“I know your firm position in favour of dialogue and the easing of tensions,” the Greek prime minister stated, referring to Greece’s relations with Turkey.
“I also always strive to keep channels of communication open but Western equanimity often serves to encourage Turkish arbitrariness. It is time for European principles to be transformed into European practice,” Mitsotakis underlined and added: “Greece only wants friends. It wants good relations, of course, with its neighbours, guided by international law and the law of the sea. But it does not tolerate threats. My position is crystal clear.”
Mitsotakis also stressed that austerity cannot be the answer to everything.
“Both the Franco-German pact and the treaty of mutual defence assistance between Greece and France can form a model of European strategic autonomy. The future is exciting for Greece, Germany and Europe,” he said.
Concluding, the prime minister stressed: “I welcome you with joy and I say goodbye with respect. Athens will be waiting for you as a friend. In your new course, do not forget Goethe’s words: “Of all peoples, the Greeks have dreamt the dream of life best”.
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