On Tuesday, the Greek Prime Minister focused on the need to broaden and deepen the EU while addressing MEPs during the fifth “This is Europe” debate.
At the beginning of his speech, Prime Minister Mitsotakis stated that his country suffered more than any other in 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.
Asking for more solidarity on these fronts, he also called for EU enlargement in the Western Balkans, in parallel to a push for more integration, especially in energy and defence. He underlined the role that Greece is ready to play in enhancing the EU’s energy autonomy and green transition, through an array of infrastructure and cooperation initiatives in the East Mediterranean. 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. This means supporting Ukraine and preventing any kind of fait accompli that would create a dangerous precedent for other revisionist forces.
Mr Mitsotakis confirmed that he is in favour of coordinated action to rein in skyrocketing energy costs, which would also protect the European Union 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 concluded.
Watch President Metsola’s introduction and Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ speech here.
One round of EP speakers
In reaction to Mr Mitsotakis’ address, some MEPs focused on the Greek government’s successes in some areas of the economy and its important role in safeguarding the EU’s external border. Others pointed to the persistently very high unemployment rate and asked for more green and social investments, especially on 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.
This was the fifth “This is Europe” debate at the European Parliament. MEPs had previously welcomed Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in March, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in May, and Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Croatian PM Andrej Plenković respectively in the two June plenary sessions.