ROME – In statements after remotely participating in a quadrilateral summit held in Rome with his Italian, Spanish and Portuguese counterparts on Friday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the meeting was a significant step toward “formulating a European response to the dramatic increase in energy prices”.
“It is our common conviction that facing such a challenge demands a common European response. Actions, in other words, to protect our societies, since no country can cope with this crisis alone,” he said.
He noted that the “outrageous price hikes in the energy sector” constituted a “foremost issue for our economies and the social cohesion of our peoples.”
Mitsotakis participated in the meeting via teleconference as he is currently self-isolating due to a recent diagnosis with Covid-19. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa participated in person, while the meeting was hosted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
“We agree that the solutions cannot be only national,” Mitsotakis said, adding: “In the initial phase, we propose that there should be harmonised European policies of intervention against speculators, so as to restore balance in electricity and natural gas prices. When the markets are at the mercy of speculators, then this demands a European intervention.”
Immediate decisions must be taken at the next European Council, the Greek prime minister noted, and Europe must form a united front, as this situation threatened to ‘torpedo’ the European idea and a crisis that could reawaken the “nightmare of populism”.
“We in Greece paid a heavy price in the previous decade. We must give emphasis to the interconnections, invest in our interconnections with the African continent. We agreed on the text that we will approve. The events in Ukraine underline the need for Europe’s strategic autonomy, to increase our military spending and how this will be dealt with in the European framework, as it is clear that this will burden our budgets,” he added.
Referring to the war in Ukraine, the prime minister said: “I also want to express my horror at all that is happening in Ukraine and especially in Mariupol, which has been turned into a symbol of resistance. You are aware of our keen interest, as more than 100,000 Ukrainian citizens of Greek descent live there. The Greek government will undertake to rebuild the Mariupol maternity hospital after the end of the hostilities, as a least token of our support.”