PM Tsipras’ initiative for “social Europe”

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras raised the issue of an agenda for social Europe in practice during the European Council summit, taking an important initiative towards that direction.

Tsipras underlined, according to government sources, that the European pillar of social rights is important and must be implemented. He also said that the social pillar will counterbalance the fiscal pact.

According to Athens-Macedonian News Agency’s (ANA) sources, the European Commission, France, Italy, Sweden and Portugal supported the proposal, while Germany left open the possibility to support it. The issue will be raised again in March.

Regarding European Council president Donald Tusk’s statement on the refugees, he said that it makes the management of the refugee flows more difficult and at the same time puts the future of the European Union at risk as it undermines European solidarity. For Greece, he said, it is not so important whether some countries will accommodate 200 or 1,000 refugees, but to insist on undermining the principles on which the EU is based.

Moreover, he said that Greece respected the EU rules and the European solidarity although it disagreed with some austerity and foreign policies. All member states must do the same, he noted, in order to deal with that European issue.

On the issue of funding, he argued that the financial instruments (possibly new ones) should be made more flexible in order to respond to the current reality and allow third countries to absorb them. The issue is not only to increase funds, but to integrate our goals into the EU’s migration policy, the prime minister said, according to sources.

On the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Athens, he said that the migration issue was one of the main reasons despite the national and ideological differences.

“It is an issue of supporting the south-eastern EU borders which become more and more important. The European security and the management of migration flows are based on smooth Greek-Turkish relations,” he stressed.

Tsipras added that the security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean make the need for a just, viable solution to the Cyprus problem even more urgent, based on UN decisions and without Turkish guarantees.

The prime minister stressed the need for peace, respect for international law and cooperation in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, as he said, “it is a European stake that is now more important than ever.”

He also spoke of three important steps taken during the Turkish President’s visit to Athens:

* Resumption of the talks on the Continental Shelf and Confidence Building Measures was agreed under the high supervision of the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras and Turkish President Erdogan.

* There was agreement on measures for more effective implementation of the EU-Turkey Agreement and Turkey to implement again the bilateral Readmission Agreement.

* President Erdogan publicly stressed that he is seeking a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem and that talks should continue.