In speech to Parl’t, Juncker calls on Turkey to free Greek soldiers

In speech to Parl’t, Juncker calls on Turkey to free Greek soldiers

Addressing Greece's Parliament on Thursday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Ankara to release two Greek soldiers who have been in a Turkish prison since early March and to stop illegal activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

"The Greek soldiers in Turkey must be freed and the country must respect international law," he said.

Juncker also praised Greece for its efforts to tackle an ongoing refugee crisis "particularly to secure the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal," he said. "I know how hard that has been recently," he said, adding that, "we can't leave Greece to handle the refugee issue on its own." 

The EC president lauded Greece's achievements on the level of fiscal adjustment but appealed to the government to continue reforms and not to waste "all the hard work that has been done." 

Underlining his respect for the country and the Greek people, he said he had never championed austerity and respects the strength of character Greeks have shown over the years.

"I don't think any other country could have faced such problems, with such courage and dignity," he said.

However, important steps must still be taken to tackle the "ailments that have cost your country so dearly," he said, stressing the need for "healthy banks" and a crackdown on corruption.

In response for theose reforms, however, Greece's European partners must "honor their commitments regarding debt measures," he said. "Solidarity and responsib ility are two sides of the same coin."

"What is needed is an economy that does not create debt but opportunities," he said. "What you are doing now is preparing the future for your children."

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