Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivers his speech during a debate at the European Parliament , Tuesday, July 5, 2022 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
STRASBURG – Greece’s prime minister said Tuesday that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “turning point” in the course of Europe, stressing that any type of outcome that could embolden aggression by other nations on the continent must be avoided.
Greece, which has long-standing disputes with far larger neighbor Turkey that brought them to the brink of war three times in the last half-century, has voiced strong support for Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion.
“The battle of Ukraine is not just another event on the international scene. It is a turning point in the course of Europe,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
“We owe it today to Ukraine to avert any type of fait accompli which could be imitated tomorrow by new potential trouble-makers,” he said.
Mitsotakis noted he was referring to “the constant aggressive behavior of Turkey,” with which relations have shown increasing strain over the past two years. Although both NATO members, the two countries have decades-old disputes over a series of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Recent quarrels have focused on Greek islands off Turkey’s coast, with Ankara accusing Athens of maintaining a military presence there in violation of treaties. Greece counters it is acting according to international law and is defending its islands in the face of Turkish hostility.
“One thing is certain, we do not need new revisionism and the revival of imperial fantasies,” Mitsotakis said. “And another thing is also certain, Greece will not tolerate any questioning of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Greek prime minister said his country was “keeping our doors shut to threats, keeping our windows open to peaceful contacts. Disputes between nations are resolved based on international law, not through bullying.”
Last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of violating its airspace — something which Greece frequently accuses Turkey of doing to its own airspace, and denies violating Turkey’s.
“We don’t have an issue like ‘let’s go to war with Greece, let’s make war.’ But Greece is not standing by their promises,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers, accusing Greece of having violated Turkish airspace 147 times.
“Of course, if you’re going to violate our airspace like this, then what falls on us? My air force will give you the necessary visuals. That’s what our air force is doing,” Erdogan said, adding that “our armed forces are doing their duty and if these airspace violations continue after this, we will continue to do our duty in the same way.”
The Turkish president said the leaders of many NATO countries had tried to reconcile him and Mitsotakis. Erdogan said that “we are not thinking that right now,” but would see what happens in the future and evaluate it then.
Greece in 2022 Is Nothing Like the Country of 2015
“Greece in 2022 is nothing like the country of 2015,” Mitsotakis also underlined while addressing the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Referring to the 2015 referendum, which was also held on the same date, Mitsotakis said that “it almost dealt a fatal blow and only when faced with the prospect of disorderly default did the then government back down. But the cost was high; banks closed, capital controls and an unnecessary third memorandum that led to a new round of austerity.”
Mitsotakis also noted that “in the last three years, Greece has a government that is leading it to a new era”.
Mitsotakis meets with European Parliament President Metsola
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday met with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola before addressing a plenary session of the European parliament.
During their meeting, Mitsotakis referred to the national support programme to help households and businesses cope with higher electricity rates and repeated his proposal for decoupling natural gas wholesale prices from the final price of electricity for consumers. Additionally, he underlined that Greece can serve as an energy transfer hub for the wider region of the Balkans and Europe.
Mitsotakis also pointed to Greece’s progress in the sector of economy, underlining the wide range of structural reforms to improve competitiveness and social cohesion.
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