With Turkey upping the ante with provocative moves in its borders with Greece, and the EU, the recent flare-up of the migration issue and the topical presence of the coronovirus pandemic, "Kathimerini" has conducted a wide-ranging interview with Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Kurz, 33, is the youngest head of government in the world and is in his second administration, having also been chancellor from December 2017 to May 2019.
Kurz talked about how Europe can react to the Turkish threat, the role of the US as guarantor of global stability and Austria's position on migration. He noted that the Greek government has successfully faced the coronavirus crisis and that it is of the utmost importance the European Union adopts a single position, more united than ever, to face the pandemic. He lauded the "excellent" cooperation between Austria and Greece and underlined that in no way should the EU allow Turkey to blackmail it. This would be achieved only if all EU members decide to act decisively at the political level.
Asked about his country's position on EU support to member states' economies, seemingly at odds with Greece's Kurz replied: "I am in constant communication with the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark to forge a common position. Our goals are known: a limited-time Recovery Fund, in order to avoid a permanent transfer of resources, loans instead of grants and with specific rules in order for the loans to be granted. Our aim is to provide incentives for reforms. This will make our economies in the medium term more resilient and globally competitive. Another goal is how to tune up our economies so they can face the new challenges successfully, not just talk about the size of European aid packages"
On Turkey's actions toward Greece, especially when it tried to use migrants as a means of pressure, Kurz is clear: "We must not allow Turkey to blackmail us! We cannot allow Turkey to use migrants to blackmail the EU, as it has repeatedly tried. This is precisely the reason we sent aid to Evros last March: to help Greece defend its borders, which are also the European Union's borders and to send a clear message to Turkey. I am very happy seeing the EU helping Greece defend its borders, while frontex played a crucial role."
Kurz himself tweeted about the interview published Sunday in Kathimerini:
I also reiterated that we must not be blackmailed by #Turkey. We must stop illegal migration at our external borders, like the Greek border. This also our responsibility as Europeans.
— Sebastian Kurz (@sebastiankurz) June 21, 2020