Petsas: Agreement for Resumption of Exploratory Contacts with Turkey a Positive Step

September 24, 2020

ATHENSD — "As we have already said, the agreement on the resumption of exploratory contacts is a positive step. Of course, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed yesterday at the summit of the European People's Party, there has to be continuity and consistency from the Turkish side," government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said on Thursday during a press briefing.

He added that "the agreement proves that the government's approach at the operational and diplomatic levels has paid off. Because from the first moment the government made it clear that it is ready for dialogue but not under a regime of threats and blackmail."

He clarified that the object of the exploratory contacts is the delimitation of the maritime zones, continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). "Greece is coming to the exploratory contacts having already signed the internationally legal agreements with Italy and Egypt, where the right of the islands to the continental shelf and the EEZ is confirmed," he added.

"Τhe prime minister in all his international contacts has highlighted the European dimension of the problem that touches on vital European interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. There is now ready a list of sanctions in case Turkey insists on unilateral action," the government spokesman stated.

On the crucial issue of the health crisis, he pointed out that "as far as the coronavirus is concerned, we are in a critical phase in the fight against the pandemic. Let the example of other countries be taken seriously by all of us. France, for example, an advanced European country with a population about six times that of Greece, has been steadily recording more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus per day in recent days. Proportionately, that is, based on its population, Greece would exceed even 1,600 cases per day. However, thanks to the measures that have been taken and thanks to the individual responsibility and the collective maturity that the vast majority of Greeks have shown and continue to show, the cases in our country have stabilised at over 300 per day. The comparison, also, with other European countries, with a similar population, proves that Greece is still managing better in dealing with the pandemic than many other countries, both in the number of cases and in the number of deaths."

Petsas also cited graphs for the epidemiological picture of Greece in comparison with other countries in Europe.

"The better epidemiological picture in Greece should not lead to complacency but to vigilance in order to improve it, as the pandemic is evolving dynamically. Our strategy against the coronavirus, in order to be effective, is also dynamic, and is determined by how the epidemiological data unfolds," he noted.

Petsas underlined that "in order to avoid tougher measures that will have a cost for both the economy and the whole of society, it is therefore imperative that we all apply, meticulously, the measures indicated by the experts and decided by the state. Of major importance is the use of a mask in all enclosed spaces and especially on public transport. During peak hours, in particular, a lot of attention is needed and the government is making every effort to tackle the problem of congestion."

Regarding recent developments on migration, the government spokesperson said that "the European Commission presented a new Pact on Migration and Asylum on Wednesday. This is focused on five main areas:

– Enhancing border protection.

– Accelerating asylum procedures.

– Immediate recording and identification (pre-entry screening).

– A mechanism for fair burden-sharing among the member-states, based on responsibility and solidarity.

– Increased and faster returns."

He explained that "the texts presented yesterday by the European Commission will be the subject of negotiations, during which we will actively and decisively support our fundamental positions. For this purpose, an inter-ministerial working group has already been set up with the participation of the migration and asylum ministry, foreign ministry, citizen protection ministry, as well as shipping and island policy ministry, which will work closely with the Permanent Representation of the European Union to Greece.

Turning to the economy, Petsas said that "the 7th Enhanced Surveillance report has been successfully completed. The report confirms that the government, despite the crises, is continuing the reforms. In particular, it showcases the great progress that has been made in the implementation of significant structural changes, with a positive impact on the investment environment and the economic climate."

He said that these include, among others, the field of investment licensing, energy policy and public administration. The report also noted the successful implementation by the government of a coherent multi-billion-euro package of measures to address the social and economic impact of the pandemic.

"This success reflects the confidence of international markets in the Greek economy. And this is reflected in the compression of the borrowing costs of the Hellenic Republic to a historically low level, and throughout the spectrum of the bond curve."



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