Speaking at the Atlantic Council think tank of international affairs in Washington on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said how he “arrived (in the US) at a turbulent time, but also at the best point in Greece-US relations.”
Mitsotakis noted how Greek economy is reacting favorably to the reforms legislated and pursued by his government, and he underlined making an early repayment of the country’s loans to the IMF after his government won the July 2019 national elections.
He then referred to the potential purchase of F-35 fighter jets, when the country’s budget allows for it.
The Greek Prime Minister also emphasized how he has always been a firm supporter of the NATO alliance and proceeded to condemn Ankara’s recent policy in the region and beyond.
“I made it clear in London (at the recent NATO Leaders’ Summit) that it is unacceptable for one ally to provoke another ally,” he noted, “yet Turkey continues to provoke, and the issue should be discussed again in the alliance.”
Concerning energy policy, he praised the recent signing of the EastMed gas pipeline agreement in Athens as a milestone in Greek-American relations, and stressed how this is a significant accord not only for Greece and the signatory countries, but also for Europe, as it would cover its energy needs for the next 30 years. He also said he wanted to make sure it is clearly understood that no one is ruled out from this agreement, and that Greece does not, as he said, stand in Turkey’s way.
He then mentioned that the “Turkey-Libya so-called ‘agreement’ cannot produce anything of legally accepted stature, as it is an agreement legally unfounded, null and geographically absurd,” he noted.
“But we are inclined to keep all communication channels with Turkey open,” he added.
“If Turkey agrees that we must resolve our differences over the maritime zones decisively, then we can go to The Hague, but even then the condition is to respect international law and recognize that our only difference in the Aegean concerns the continental shelf.”
“We will not accept any violation of our sovereign rights,” he stressed.
On the EU prospects of western Balkan countries, Mitsotakis said that “the European road of the western Balkan countries is in our favor (…) but as far as Albania is concerned, we have made it clear that the rights of the Greek ethnic minority there should be respected,” he added.
On the heated situation following the killing of top Iranian army commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad by a targeted US bombing, Mitsotakis said there should be a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East.
“We have close relations with the Arab world, but we do not forget who our allies are,” he said, and here he took the opportunity to refer to Greece’s economic cooperation with China, saying Piraeus is the natural port route from Africa and Asia.
On refugee policy, he said that “you cannot have the Schengen Agreement and not have a common (E.U.) asylum policy. It is very unfair to put the burden on the countries at the EU’s borderline. I cannot wait for the EU to respond on this,” he said.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis finally referred to the deepening of strategic cooperation with the US, “for which there is now widespread and intraparty support in Greece, especially after SYRIZA’s policy shift in favor of it,” he concluded.