The European Union has an obligation to “prevent any kind of precedent that can be mimicked by prospective troublemakers down the line,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told lawmakers in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, in comments during a speech addressing the war in Ukraine but seen also as a tacit reference to Turkey.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine marks a “turning point for Europe,” he said during a meeting of the plenary for its fifth “This Is Europe” debate, adding that “we stand against the invader who violated the legitimate order and the existing borders.”
Openly speaking about Turkey and its recent escalation of tension over the Aegean, Mitsotakis stressed that “Greece will not tolerate any challenge to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Ankara’s “false claims are answered by reality and international law,” he said, adding that “we do not need new revisionism and revivals of imperial fantasies as we face the great challenge of war.”
His speech also had a decidedly electoral flavor, defending the political choices of his three-year administration, claiming that “Greece of 2022 has nothing to do” with Greece of 2015.
Mitsotakis repeatedly referred to the July 5 referendum in 2015 called by ruling SYRIZA on whether Greece should accept the terms of its bailout, saying it brought the country to the brink of leaving the euro. Disaster was averted, he stressed, at the heavy cost of closed banks, capital controls and the “unnecessary” third memorandum.
Noting his government’s achievements, he also referred to the national vaccination campaign, while noting that the European Digital Certificate was a Greek proposal. Greece was also, he said, one of the first countries to highlight the need for a new common European fund for the recovery of the European economy after the pandemic, but it was also “a guardian of Europe” during the events in Evros in March 2020 when thousands of migrants tried to cross from Turkey into Greece.