Statement by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference MED7 – September 10, 2020 Ladies and gentlemen, we have just completed the first round of discussions, fruitful discussions, as it seems to be a very successful Summit of European Southern Countries. And the place that hosted her may have contributed to this. As President Macron said, Corsica is a bridge of people and cultures in the
Mediterranean that shows us the way to solidarity and cooperation to face together the great challenges of our common sea. I want to thank President Macron, my friend Emmanuel, for the excellent preparation, the warm hospitality, but also for the extremely fruitful bilateral meeting we had. First of all, I informed my interlocutors about the Immigration, about the latest sad events in Moria, Lesvos. On a Greek, but at the same time European acritic island, on the eastern borders of our continent. There, as you know, the Greek State is already facing the problem of the riots that broke out when a number of host immigrants reacted to tests and measures to protect against the coronavirus. I would like to thank all my colleagues, Heads of State and Government, for their practical support to Greece in this difficult crisis it is facing. I want to inform you – I also had the opportunity to inform my colleagues – that our first concern was the care of unaccompanied minors. Everything has already been moved away from Lesvos, away from Moria and I want to thank President Macron, Chancellor Merkel for their kind proposal to be available to host some of these children, thus putting into practice the concept of European solidarity. Our priority is Health for all: We will take all necessary measures to manage this crisis effectively and with humanity. But at some point, we have to face reality head-on. You know that Greece, like other countries in the south of Europe, bears the unbearable weight of a European problem. And, today, Europe must move from words of support to acts of solidarity. The framework outlined by President Macron on the common immigration and asylum policy completely covers me. We must very quickly bring this debate back to the European Union’s priorities so that we can finally succeed where we have unfortunately failed in the past. We also had the opportunity to discuss the issue of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the role of Turkey. For the escalation of the tension, for the provocative behaviours, for the way in which Turkey is challenging the sovereign rights of two member states of the European Union, while still illegally occupying the territory of one of them, Cyprus. While openly, now, he distances himself from any attempt at honest communication. The conclusions of the 7th Summit of the South, of the European South, send a very clear message today, in paragraph 6. These are conclusions that show the way in Turkey. If Turkey really wants an honest dialogue with Greece, with Cyprus, with the European Union, it must prove it in practice. Stop unilateral actions immediately, to give convincing evidence that it strictly and not selectively respects international rules. As far as we are concerned, this is what we have been saying for a long time: end of challenges and beginning of discussions. We had the opportunity to emphasize that the Mediterranean is a vital area for European security as a whole. This European security is not assigned to third parties. As President Macron has said, this is the “mare nostrum” – our sea, the European sea. And in the run-up to the Summit, we will prevent Turkey from attempting to divide Europe. And as I had the opportunity to write today in the European press, support in Greece and Cyprus is not just an expression of solidarity. It is a recognition of the fact that, from now on, strategic interests for Europe itself are at stake. The neighbouring country, Turkey, still has time, before the Summit, to take a step back and chart its own way out of this crisis. Abstain from maritime and research activities in unbounded maritime zones. To contain aggressive rhetoric. To return in terms of its relations with Greece to the table of exploratory talks from which it left in 2016. And if we can not agree, as President Macron said, there is always the solution of The Hague, of the International Court of Justice. We were also concerned with the question of how the problem of migrants can be used as a lever to pursue geopolitical, strategic, the neighbouring country. That is why the return under the 2016 agreement is still imperative. I have already spoken on the issue of border guarding and refugee management in general. I will only say that Greece is doing its duty by guarding the European borders. But that, as we have said, is only one aspect of the issue. That is why, today more than ever, practical solidarity is required. I close by saying that we will then have the opportunity to discuss the other issues concerning our Mediterranean. What is happening in Libya, how are we going to further strengthen Operation Peace, what is happening in Syria, what is happening in Lebanon, which is still being tested by the catastrophic explosion of August 4. Comment on and welcome the historically significant agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Maybe good, positive news after a long time in the Middle East. Let us, of course, also discuss the economic challenges, how much the European south played a leading role in being able to achieve the great European overrun as reflected in the results of last July’s Summit. A common, brave, True, this is the first time I have personally attended a MED7 Summit, but I can not imagine that since this Forum was set up it has had to deal with so many and so many complex challenges. But, I think our consensus has never been so strong and I am sure, that next year when the 8th Synod will be hosted in Greece, and specifically in my place of origin, Crete, all things will be much more optimistic. Thank you very much.