Weber to ANA-MPA: The recovery is here, and if I can be very honest Greece is doing much better than Germany
My first message to Greece is you succeeded. The recovery is here, and if I can be very honest Greece is doing much better than Germany at the moment, President of the European People’s Party (EPP) Manfred Weber said in an interview with the Athens Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).
He believes this has a lot to do with leadership, noting:
“In a world filled with conflicts and uncertainty people look for personalities who can navigate the future and are courageous enough to show what direction they want to go. Kyriakos Mitsotakis is such a leader and he turned around the image of Greece and rebuilt its credibility not only in Europe but also in the world stage. And most importantly the people of Greece can see it because they feel it in their pockets and in the positive way leaders around Europe show respect what has been achieved here”.
The full interview with Chrysostomos Bikatzik follows:
In the run-up to the European elections in June, one of the questions on the minds of European citizens, especially young people, is: “ Why should I go and vote”?
This year we will see the biggest democracies in the world going to the polls. The first is India, but the second and third are the EU and the US. These elections will decide the future of politics in the west, and in a way also of what we call our European way of life. With the war in Ukraine and the serious security concerns in Europe, the instability of the world economy and the challenges of climate change, the European elections will be extremely important. Globally democracy and freedom are under significant pressure and we must show people that what we have in the west, and especially in Europe, is the best possible way that exists to organise societies and live together. And to be honest I think people are very aware of what is at stake with these European elections and participation will continue to increase as it did last time.
Τhe opinion polls and results in national elections show that extremist politics and candidates are gaining ground across Europe. Are you concerned that this will also be recorded in the European elections?
It is clear many citizens are very concerned about the future. This mandate has been a crisis mandate, with Corona and the war in Ukraine. Inflation is hurting disposable incomes everywhere and people feel it every day. What they want to see is that their concerns are taken seriously and not to be lectured with ideological left wing ideas. For example on climate change, we know that we need to achieve climate neutrality in 2050, but we want to do it with the people and not against them. We are the party of how we can achieve this goal. That is what we delivered this mandate, and it is the reason why we are so successful in national elections, and a perfect example for this is Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Another example is Andrej Plenkovic, Prime Minister of Croatia, who led his country to the EU and into NATO. I am very happy he will also join us at our event this Friday. The EPP now has 12 Prime Ministers in the European Council and we have good chances to remain the biggest Group in the European Parliament.
Will it remain…
At the elections the people of Europe will decide, but our chances look very good. When it comes to the economy we delivered on the recovery fund together with Ursula von der Leyen. It was an extremely difficult period. And now the war in Ukraine but also the Middle East conflict is forcing us to rethink the future of our security and defence. Also the state of American politics makes it clear that in the long run, Europe needs to stand more on its own feet when it comes to security and defence in the region. So this will be one of the key priorities for the EPP after the elections. The other big priority is the economy. In times of crisis we have to take care of the basics, jobs and incomes that can afford a decent standard of living.
Why would anyone, especially the young European citizen, side with the national parties belonging to the political family of the European People’s Party and vote for them on the European elections?
Because we have the best program for the people Europe, we have the best candidates to lead the European institutions and we want to hold Europe together. Europe is stuck between left and green ideologies that don’t take the realities of citizens into account and the extreme right who do not want to solve any problems, they even need problems like illegal migration to stay relevant. We don’t have nostalgia about going back to the past, we want to build a better future for Europeans.
In Greece, the European Parliament became in recent months known (negatively) also due to cases allegedly involving MEPs and being examined by the Belgian judiciary… or lately that MEPs were acting like Russian agents in the European Parliament. The confidence in a European institution is being shaken some months before the elections. What’s your comment on that?
Whenever Members of Parliament are involved in illegal acts it damages the reputation of the institution that they represent. But we also have to see that a democratic institution like the Parliament is bigger than the individual members. The European Parliament is the beating heart of European democracy and I am convinced it will only get stronger over time.
How do you comment on the resolution on Greece and what it says about the rule of law and freedom of the press?
In light of positive developments in Greece, recognised by the European Commission in the latest rule of law report which confirms the positive direction of the reforms, we should congratulate the Greek government for this. Instead, the left and liberal side of the European Parliament is harming even the basic idea of the Rule of Law with their political games. It shows that nobody is any more interested in the rule of law or media freedom. It’s only about accusations towards the Greek government, so I’m quite frustrated about this and I think that on the long run this will harm also the idea of the Rule of Law. So, stop it please that is my opinion. There are processes going on in Greece, we count fully on the judges there, they do their job and whenever there is a problem, we have the European Court of Justice as well so we have a legal system, it works, it functions, we have full trust in in the Greek democratic and constitutional institutions.
Rule of Law is first of all not a Party political issue. It’s an issue based on law, on judgements of independent courts and also of the European Commission as the guardian of the Treaties. And the European Commission was crystal clear that the improvements are there, the latest rule of law report confirms the positive direction of the reforms and we should congratulate the Greek government for this. In light of these positive developments in Greece the continued party-political instrumentalisation of the left and liberal side in the European Parliament is simply unacceptable. They are harming even the basic idea of the Rule of Law with their political games. Looking at the EPP’s track record on media freedom in Europe, for example in Malta where the socialist government has still not delivered justice for Daphne Garuana Galicia and in the Czech republic where liberal PM Babis was kicked out of office by EPP parties after a journalist was murdered, we don’t need any lessons on this from the left and liberal parties. The EPP is the party of rule of law and the recent win of Donald Tusk in the Polish elections is an important case in point.
You will be in Athens for the Road of Recovery conference. Finally, after a decade of crisis, what do Europeans think of Greece today and how easy will the road to recovery be for both Greece and Europe, given Germany’s economic situation?
Well, my first message to Greece is you succeeded. The recovery is here, and if I can be very honest Greece is doing much better than Germany at the moment. I believe this has alot to do with leadership. In a world filled with conflicts and uncertainty people look for personalities who can navigate the future and are courageous enough to show what direction they want to go. Kyriakos Mitsotakis is such a leader and he turned around the image of Greece and rebuilt its credibility not only in Europe but also in the world stage. And most importantly the people of Greece can see it because they feel it in their pockets and in the positive way leaders around Europe show respect what has been achieved here.