UK Ambassador Kate Smith, in an interview with Action 24 TV channel, referred to Prince Charles’ visit to Greece, bilateral relations between Greece and Britain as Brexit approaches, Greek-Turkish issues, the Western Balkans, Syria, Iran and relations with Russia.
On the program of the Prince:
The purpose of the three-day visit of the Prince is to highlight the historical and contemporary relationship of the two countries and to indicate Britain’s appreciation of Greece’s contribution to the defence and security of Europe, as well the way it dealt with the migration issue.
The program will begin with the laying of a wreath at the Unknown Soldier Monument. The Greek President and his wife will receive the prince and his wife at the presidential mansion. On his first day, Prince Charles will meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. On the evening of the same day, the President will host a formal dinner. On Thursday, the official guests will go to Piraeus for contacts aiming to strengthen relations in shipping and defence.
Emphasis will also be put on cooperation in dealing with migration, culture and education issues.
On the third day, they will go to Crete and visit the archaeological site of Knossos, connected with the British Archaeological School of Athens, and the visit will be completed with a Cretan feast.
There is no reason for relations between the two countries to weaken due to the Brexit. Great Britain’s goal is to strengthen bilateral relations with the countries of Europe.
The major issues of customs union and cooperation in foreign policy, defence and security are being discussed. The talks will be tough but will result have a functional relationship, and Britain staying close to Europe, she said.
The country will remain open to foreign visitors and migrants. With the referendum, the UK delivered one vote in favor of sovereignty and it is well known that Britain’s relationship with Europe has always been difficult.
As the UK Prime Minister has said, Britain is not moving away from Europe but only from the EU institutions, and the UK will also have cooperation with the institutions in the areas mentioned, Smith noted.
On Greeks living in Britain:
In the UK there are 11,000 Greek students and a total of about 70,000 Greeks, the ambassador pointed out. Few things will change for those now living in Britain – their rights are secured – and those arriving during the transitional period will have the same rights as the Greeks now living in Britain. Still due was Britain’s new migration system, which Smith said was likely to be announced in the autumn.
As for the students, she stressed that international education in Britain is the sixth-largest sector of the UK economy and not an asset the UK will easily give up.