Greece stands “at the crossroads of many of the challenges faced by the European Union today” and is in an excellent position to help in talks addressing them, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday.
Speaking to Politico in Brussels, where he’s attending his first European Union summit since being elected in July, the center-right prime minister said that the spike in migrant and refugee arrivals from Turkey, Turkish military operations in Syria and its violations of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone are issues that concern Athens and every other European capital and on which Greece can make an essential contribution.
He called on EU leaders to adopt a “clear stance” and “unanimously condemn” Turkey’s military incursion in northern Syria and to impose “targeted sanctions against anyone involved in illegal drilling within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.”
“I believe that there is consensus among the ranks of the member-states that these two decisions need to be taken,” Mitsotakis said.
“Turkey cannot be allowed to use the migration crisis as leverage to pressure the European Union into giving it more financial aid,” he said.
“We have given Turkey a lot of money. I think that we can discuss measures to help people seeking refuge in Turkey, but this cannot be discussed in a framework in which Turkey threatens to open its borders and flood Europe with migrants and refugees. What the European Union needs is a ‘firefighting plan’ or a Plan B, so as to ensure that what is an emergency today doesn’t turn into a full-blown crisis,” he added.
Greece has reached its limits in terms of what it can do to manage the number of refugees and migrants in the country, Mitsotakis told Politico, adding that it needs “more European solidarity on this front.”
On the issue of EU enlargement to induct Albania and North Macedonia into the bloc, the Greek prime minister says that his New Democracy has always argued that the Western Balkans need to be a part of the European Union and that his government supports this process, “under certain conditions.”
“We need to be absolutely certain that North Macedonia abides by the terms of the [Prespes] agreement” and that Albania does more to protect the rights of its Greek minority, Mitsotakis said.