FILE - PM Mitsotakis in joint statements with Scholz. (Photo by SOTIRIS DIMITROPOULOS/EUROKINISSI)
ATHENS – “Thanks to the efforts of Greek citizens, primarily, but also the state, almost everything is very different in the economy, in society, in the international position of the country since [Angela Merkel] visited Greece,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in joint statements with visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Athens on Thursday.
The prime minister noted that Greece was no longer under European surveillance, with 11 positive surveillance reports in the last three years, while it had one of the fastest rates of growth in Europe, its unemployment rate was dropping and it expected to have a primary surplus in 2023.
At the same time, he added, investments and exports have taken off and all this serves to reduce levels of public debt, which this year dropped to 170 pct of GDP, proving that economic progress can go hand-in-hand with fiscal balance.
“This overall upgrade is taking place at a time when my country is also defending against both high energy costs, the war in Ukraine and the national challenges generated by the aggressive behaviour of its neighbours,” Mitsotakis said.
All Greeks were proud of the credibility that the country has gained, “which proves that Greece respects and makes productive use of European assistance, such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility programme,” the prime minister noted, adding that the more effectively this help was used, the more convincingly could Greece then ask for more funding.
“I am glad we are working together from new positions for the common goals of our continent, far from the past roles of the powerful and weak, of creditor and borrower. With my country not simply passively asking, as it has done for many years now, but discussing equally, creatively, contributing during the pandemic to the European digital passport and to the formation of the Recovery Fund and now with a key role for a single community policy in energy for European strategic autonomy and for the further deepening of democracy in member-states under siege from populism and demagoguery,” Mitsotakis said.
The issue of war reparations for the nazi occupation of World War II and especially the forced occupation loan remains an “open issue” for Athens, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during joint statements with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday.
PM Mitsotakis: WWII reparations remains an open issue for Athens
“Its settlement would be especially beneficial, particularly at a time when Greek-German alignment in the face of the challenges of the times is unshakeable, chiefly on the Russian invasion of Ukraine where we once again ascertained that our views are identical. Europe cannot tolerate, after 80 years, a new war at its heart nor allow the repetition of a fait accompli of invasion and occupation,” Mitsotakis said, while noting that such a situation still prevailed in Cyprus.
German Chancellor: Greece a country with a ‘tangible’ growth dynamic
Visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted the “excellent economic conditions” he saw in Greece and noted a “tangible” growth dynamic during joint statements with the Greek prime minister in Athens on Thursday, saying he had arrived in a “new Greece”.
Scholz said his talks with the Greek premier had chiefly centred on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its repercussions, while they had also discussed the Eastern Mediterranean and Greek-Turkish relations.
The German chancellor said that the Russian invasion was “the cause of all the difficulties we face” and that it was up to Russia to stop the war, while noting that he was grateful “that we can jointly supply Ukraine with defence armaments”.
Referring to the repercussions of the crisis, he said that energy prices must drop and that EU leaders were in agreement that solidarity was essential for dealing with the crisis. The EU has reached a decision for common platforms and decisions that will lead to a reduction in prices and increase the purchasing power of salaries, and “to help so that through the decisions we take…there is no price speculation,” Scholz said.
He also stressed the need to further expand use of renewable energy sources, noting that these must be the base for Europe and highlighting the excellent RES programmes in Greece. “We need natural gas but we also need RES to further reduce energy prices,” Scholz said, adding that the European Council had also discussed the financing available that will allow investments in the future and the target of ending dependence on imported energy from Russia.
On the Eastern Mediterranean, he said that it was an area full of potential, especially on the economic front, and that it would be in the interests of all countries to use these opportunities for the good of their people.
“I got the impression today that Greece is absolutely ready and we must support this. Relations between Greece and Turkey are important for both Europe and NATO. I am certain all these issues can be resolved on the basis of dialogue and international law,” he said.
Lastly, he mentioned that they discussed the European prospects of Ukraine and Georgia and the Western Balkan countries, pledging to promote the accession course of these countries.
Scholz: Not possible for NATO allies to directly question the sovereignty of other members
Responding to questions regarding the Turkish provocations and especially statements regarding the sovereignty of the Greek islands, in light of a clear statement supporting Greek positions on this issue by the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Scholz replied:
“There is no possibility of member-states of the Alliance directly disputing the national sovereignty of other members”.
PM Mitsotakis and German Chancellor Scholz Visiting the Acropolis
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited the archaeological site of the Athens Acropolis on Thursday morning.
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