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Greek PM on Migration, Energy Crisis, Turkey at 86th TIF

September 11, 2022

THESSALONIKI – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Sunday stressed that the government had done everything necessary to secure supplies of natural gas and LNG during a difficult winter that lay ahead, while he also promised that support for households will not exceed the fiscal limits.

He said that he was open to a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, noting that the informal EU summit in Prague might be an opportunity, while noting that Erdogan’s attendance would require recognition of the Cyprus Republic and would be a first-class opportunity to highlight that Turkey’s stance leads nowhere.

Asked about his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Monday, Mitsotakis said this would focus on broader regional developments, the line of defence against Russia and international developments in energy.

Read more: At Thessaloniki Fair, Mitsotakis Brings 5.5 Billion Euros Handouts

Concerning migration and Turkey’s stance on the Greek-Turkish border in Evros, the premier stressed that Greece “is ready to face any challenge”.

“When we say that we guard the borders effectively and with respect for human rights, we do this and will continue doing this,” he added, saying Greece will continue the current policy and accusing some non-governmental organisations of treating migration like a “business”.

“The instrumentalisation of refugees is behaviour that is and should be politically condemned. For the people arriving in Greece that are true refugees we have accelerated asylum procedures and decongested the facilities,” he noted.

On the possibility of Turkey’s threats escalating to acts of war, Mitsotakis said he could not “imagine a conflict between Greece and Turkey in which Turkey was the aggressor”, adding: “If this happened, Turkey would receive a reply that would be decisive.”

“More broadly, our stance on Ukraine does not only aim to support a country that is defending itself. It is a stance that creates a dividing line between countries that respect the inviolability of borders, the rules of international law and those that think they can change borders at will,” he said.

On other issues, the prime minister pointed to the progress made in LGBTQI issues in Greece, highlighting that this was done by a centre-right government, while he also expressed his agreement with establishing the special term for ‘femicides’ but not necessarily different legal penalties for the crime.

Mitsotakis said that there were no plans for additional support measures at present, stressing that the main thrust of government policy will be on reducing unemployment, which he described as “the greatest inequality in the country today”, with the highest poverty rates among jobless people in middle age.

On the phasing out of lignite, he said this remained a long-term policy, while the current resort to lignite was a temporary measure that made sense as long as natural gas prices remained exorbitant.

Replying to an ANA question regarding the campus police force, he said it was important to “win the wager that we are not talking about a mechanism of oppression”.

The prime minister also refused to reveal the precise time of the next elections but repeated that the government will exhaust its four-year term, ruling out early elections, any change to electoral law or a reshuffle.

On economic issues, Mitsotakis appeared confident that Greece will achieve investment grade within 2023 and that any delay will be due to the risk of political instability rather than economic policy, adding that a stable government after the elections will be a condition for achieving investment grade.

As regards the increase in the minimum wage in May, he said the process for deciding this will begin at the start of the year so that businesses can plan accordingly.

He also clarified that any support sent to Ukraine “will not be at [Greece’s] detriment”.

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