NEWS

Portuguese premier says challenges call for ‘more Europe’

XENIA KOUNALAKI

TAGS: Interview, Politics, Diplomacy

The big issues testing Europe, such as the debt crisis and ongoing migrant influx, require closer cooperation and greater solidarity, said Portugal’s Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa, whose country recently announced that it is willing to take in more refugees than originally pledged.

“We believe that the solution to the common concerns we face requires more Europe and not less Europe, and in that process there should be no ‘fronts’ of some countries against or in favor of others,” Costa told Kathimerini ahead of a visit to Athens Monday for talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Costa was reserved on the issue of the IMF’s role in European bailouts, despite past criticism of its focus on austerity following Portugal’s 78 billion-euro bailout in 2011.

“Portugal has a strong institutional relationship with the IMF and with our European partners,” he said. “Finding common ground is an integral part of the European project. It is not an option which depends on the situation, but a permanent requirement,” he said.

“The complexity of the problems the world is facing do not allow Portugal, Greece or even Germany to address them unilaterally or in an isolated way,” he said.

Costa also dismissed suggestions that Portugal had raised the number of migrants it was willing to take in to 10,000 in exchange for more flexibility from Berlin and Brussels.

“We will welcome more refugees out of conviction, not out of convenience,” he said. “Because we think it is right and we know it is possible.”

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