In the fifth “This is Europe” debate, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis focused on the need to broaden and deepen the EU.
The Prime Minister said Greece had suffered more than any other country over the past few years, but was ultimately able to overcome the political and economic challenges that almost led to its exit from the euro.
Now, in addition to being among the top growing economies in Europe, Greece is on the front line of fighting for the future of the EU; in the EU’s response to the pandemic, as well as in protecting the external border from Turkey’s instrumentalisation of migrants and its aggression against Greece and Cyprus, he said, calling for more solidarity.
He also called for EU enlargement in the Western Balkans, in parallel to a push for more integration, especially in energy and defence.
Referring to Russia’s war against Ukraine, he stressed that there is only one side to take - that of democracy, justice, peace, and international law. That means supporting Ukraine and preventing any kind of fait accompli that would create a dangerous precedent for other revisionist forces.
Mitsotakis said he is in favour of coordinated action to rein in skyrocketing energy costs, which would also protect the EU by limiting the space for populist narratives. The EU needs to protect the freedom and prosperity that previous generations fought for, while continuing to build a European identity and fighting for lasting stability, he said.
Watch Parliament President Roberta Metsola’s introduction and Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ speech here.
Political group leaders
Reacting to the speech, some MEPs focused on the Greek government’s successes in areas of the economy and its important role in safeguarding the EU’s external border. Others pointed to the persistently high unemployment rate and asked for more green and social investments, especially in initiatives for young people. A few also focused on the large number of reports of illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers and concerns about the country’s recent record in respecting EU values, and the rule of law and media freedom in particular.
You can watch the full debate here.