Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in joint statements with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after their meeting in Berlin on Tuesday, reaffirmed the significant improvement in Greek-German relations on all levels.
Mitsotakis underlined that Greece is moving toward a new chapter in its history and, from being the black sheep of Europe, has now become one of the most stable economies in the eurozone, one that achieves growth, attracts investments and supports the citizens’ available income.
“We have two main principles: an unwavering orientation toward carrying out reforms and poltical stability, which was reaffirmed in the recent general elections. We are following a prudent fiscal policy that aims at the production of primary surpluses,” noted Mitsotakis.
Referring to Greek-German economic relations, he said: “This year we broke the record in tourist arrivals, with German visitors preferring Greece, while German companies are first among the foreign investors in our country and the environment is favourable in bilateral trade as well, as Germany is our second main supplier and the third biggest customer for Greek products. For the above reasons, Germany will be the honoured country at the next Thessaloniki International Fair and I had the opportunity to invite Chancellor Scholz to attend the Fair.”
The Greek premier also underlined the importance of cooperation in energy, stressing the high geostrategic significance the green energy corridor between north and south, which, as he said, consititutes an important step for independence from the Russian energy and for the development of renewable energy sources.
Mitsotakis also noted that ahead of the revision of the Stability Pact, Greece is claiming additional funds to address the natural disasters caused by the climate crisis and the migration issue. “Greece, as a first-reception country will probably have to face new strong pressure due to the crisis in the Middle East”.
Asked about the migration issue, Mitsotakis insisted that Greece is implementing “a tough but fair migration policy that has borne fruit,” and wishes to resolve the issue of secondary migration flows in a spirit of good cooperation with Germany.
Mitsotakis also said that he discussed the Cyprus issue with Scholz, pointing out that their common target is the resumption of the negotiations, welcoming the UN Secretary General’s decision to appoint a special envoy.
On Greek-Turkish relations, Mitsotakis briefed the German Chancellor on efforts to steer Greek-Turkish relations into calm waters, “with international law and good neighbourly relations as our compass”. He clarified that he totally disagrees with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s positions regarding Hamas but noted that this disagreement “does not mean that we can’t welcome him in Athens to take steps of progress in the Greek-Turkish rapprochement that has already brought results”.
Finally, Mitsotakis repeated that Athens recognises Israel’s legal right to self defence and that this must remain within the framework of international humanitarian law, while reaffirming Greece’s readiness to play an important role in the transfer of humanitarian aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the crisis in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, EU enlargement, migration, energy and protecting the climate had dominated talks during his meeting with Mitsotakis at the Chancellery, expressing satisfaction with the progress made on a series of issues.
Addressing a joint press conference held after the meeting, Scholz reiterated Berlin’s position that “Israel has a right and a duty to defend itself, always in the framework of international law,” and expressed his support for “humanitarian pauses” to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip. He also reminded reporters of the atrocities committed by Hamas and asked for the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli hostages, noting that he is in favour of a two-state solution.
Referring to Ukraine, Scholz underlined that they agreed with Mitsotakis on continuing to support the country’s defence noting that Germany supports the enlargement of the European Union, provided that the countries involved complete the necessary reforms.
On migration, the German Chancellor asked for the speedy completion of a revision of European asylum laws, referring to a need for bilateral and European solutions to tackle secondary migration to Germany.
“Hamas is a terror organisation. We agree on this [with the Greek prime minister],” stated Chancellor Scholz after the completion of his meeting with the Greek premier on Tuesday and ahead of his meeting on Friday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has expressed a different opinion.
“Hamas took power by force. Under Hamas, old people, children and women suffer (…) Its actions amount to raw brutality … It is clearly a terror organisation and in Germany we are dealing with it using all available tools. We have banned its action,” the Chancellor added.
He also noted that Israel has a right to self defence and is a democratic country which respects the human rights and acts accordingly. “The accusations against Israel (from Tayyip Erdogan) are irrational,” he concluded.