At the end of a summit of southern European leaders in Athens on Friday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for dialogue to create a better Europe, to inspire its citizens again, and declared that the leaders had agreed on a series of points for improved cooperation with a declaration to follow later in the day.
Noting that Mediterranean nations were pivotal to the future of the bloc in view of their location at its "front line," Tsipras said the summit was a "positive contribution to the dialogue on the future of Europe," noting however that "we do not want to become another divisive initiative." He called for measures that would boost growth and employment.
French President Francois Hollande underlined the importance of cooperation following Britain's decision to leave the European Union following a referendum in July as well as rising populism across the bloc. He said that southern countries would present common ideas on boosting growth and investment at an EU leaders' summit in Bratislava next Friday. The countries of southern Europe "have experienced difficulties in recent months in the name of Europe," he said.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, for his part, stressed the importance of "soft power." He too called for a "different Europe."
The aim of the one-day summit, an initiative of Tsipras which brought together leaders from France, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal and Cyprus, was to seek to forge a common front against austerity and urge a more comprehensive European approach to tackling the migration summit. Tsipras said on Friday that the so-called Euro-Mediterranean summit would next convene again in Portugal.