KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, Prime Minister of Greece, declared that the European Union led the way on vaccine procurement, purchasing and distributing doses to all member States based on their population, regardless of size or economic might. Moreover, the bloc agreed last July on an unprecedented European Union-wide fiscal stimulus package that is now driving a sustained economic recovery across the continent.
Turning to climate matters, he observed that the Mediterranean ecosystem is particularly susceptible to the consequences of rising temperatures. That was on display last summer when unprecedented wildfires ravaged Greece. In that context, Greece, alongside leaders of eight other Mediterranean countries, made the climate crisis the focal point of the annual European Union Mediterranean summit in Athens, known as EUMed 9. Furthermore, there will be $24 billion of European and national funds invested to support the green transition. Greece is addressing the issue of plastics pollution on land and at sea and is implementing ambitious plans to accelerate the use of green energy in its most sensitive ecosystems.
As for the increasing complexity of international relations, he recalled that, since 1995, Greece has been facing a formal, regularly renewed and clearly illegal threat of the use of force by Turkey. Greece is a global maritime Power and is fully committed to the law of the sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he stressed. In that context, Turkey should understand that its aggressive attitude undermines prospects for a mutually beneficial relationship, and jeopardizes regional security and stability, he stressed.
The climate crisis and the threat of illegal migration, where Turkey has an important role to play in cooperating with Greece to eradicate the networks of illegal smugglers, demonstrate that there is much the two countries can do together. “We are bound by history and geography to coexist.”
Turning to other security matters, he emphasized that a European Defence Union would only serve to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Moreover, it would oblige European countries to address issues of interoperability and meagre defense budgets. It would also accelerate cooperation on cyberspace. “If Europe is to be not just an economic but a geopolitical powerhouse, it is time for this debate to start in earnest.”
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