ATHENS — Receiving European Parliament President David Sassoli at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that European Union member-states must reach an understanding on a new pact for migration that involves a sense of mutuality and solidarity.
He also used the opportunity to send a message to Turkey that refugees and migrants cannot be used as pawns in a "grand geopolitical game".
He also agreed with Sassoli that the EU Recovery Fund could become a permanent institution and a stable financing instrument for the EU.
"The last time you visited our country was during a great crisis, and I am not referring to the Covid health crisis but the refugee-migration crisis when tens of thousands of persecuted refugees and migrants attempted to cross the border of Greece and Turkey with state encouragement, in order to enter Greece and the EU. At that time Greece rose to the occasion and protected the borders of Greece, the borders of Europe," the premier said.
Mitsotakis said he had been especially happy that representatives of all three of the EU's top institutions had joined him in Evros at that time and sent the message that the Greek border was the border of Europe with absolute clarity. He also thanked Sassoli for the European Parliament's leading role in pushing toward a new European pact on migration and asylum, which gives a joint response to the joint challenge.
The European Parliament president, on his part, said the pandemic had highlighted the need to improve the functioning of the EU and make it more effective, stressing that this required realism and not ideology. According to Sassoli, the last 15 months of the pandemic have involved a number of lessons, including the need to build a sounder foundation for certain European mechanisms and the need to work with common instruments.
"They taught us also that the EU is not just the institutions in Brussels but also the national institutions. We must reduce the distance between Brussels and the capitals of our countries," he added.
The meeting was attended by Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, senior staff and Greece's Permanent Representative to the EU, Ambassador Ioannis Vrailas.