Mitsotakis: We have concluded a strategic partnership with Macron

“We have concluded a strategic partnership with President Macron. There is the mutual defence assistance clause, which says that if any of the two parties is attacked then the other will offer its assistance. It symbolises France’s commitment and its interest in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, in reply to New York Times journalist Steven Erlanger during a discussion taking place at the Athens Democracy Forum on Thursday.

“We bought the frigates at the best price and with the best delivery time,” he added, saying that the ships Greece has ordered will place the Hellenic Navy firmly in the digital age and significantly enhance the country’s deterrent capability.

“The specific investments are within the existing fiscal framework of the country and are in no way being made at the expense of our other priorities,” Mitsotakis said, adding: “I have clarified that we will not enter into an arms race with Turkey. However, I repeat that we will defend our sovereignty and our territorial integrity”.

Mitsotakis said that he will not be apologetic when it comes to protecting the country’s borders: “In March 2020, Turkey instrumentalised the migrants and we reacted and protected our borders and continue to do so in a way that fully respects human rights,” he said.

He also said that the govenment addressed the issue of unaccompanied migrant and refugee children, adding that he will visit the island of Samos and the new reception and identification centre there on Friday. “It is not a contradiction to defend your borders and at the same time show respect for human rights,” he underlined.

On the issue of vaccination against Covid-19, he noted that the government did not have the necessary support from the opposition. “We know that we can increase the vaccination rate, we are slightly lower than the European average,” he said, clarifying that while there will be no extension of obligatory vaccination, the unvaccinated will not be permitted to enter indoor spaces and stadiums.