Greece is not facing a refugee/migration problem but an “asymmetric threat,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday in Kastanies, Evros during a joint press conference with the heads of the EU’s top institutions.
“It is my duty to defend Greece’s integrity and this is what I will do. My guideline is the security of Greece and Europe,” Mitsotakis underlined.
“We are acting within the framework of international and European law. Above all, the events at the Greek borders constitute an international political matter of the highest degree,” stated Mitsotakis. “Greece has shown that it can defend its rights armed with legality and its determination,” he said, adding that the threats of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “were not allowed to pass.”
Speaking of the situation at the borders with Turkey, the Greek premier said, “If Europe wants to protect citizens, it must be in a position to protect the borders – what we, along with Italy, Spain and other countries lying at the external borders of the EU are doing. At the same time, we cannot do this on our own. The purpose of creating Frontex was to share the burden of border protection.” He referred to the EU’s border agency.
He also pointed out that the time elapsed from the last migration crisis was not used wisely to find a way of managing the issue. “The time to do so has come – we must be in a position to show we are working effectively on the issue,” he added.
The Greek premier spoke of burden-sharing between EU member states, reiterating that “we can’t have countries in the EU pushing the burden of managing external borders onto countries that cannot help lying geographically where they do, and at the same time assume no responsibility in anything related to managing the problem.”
Ursula von der Leyen: ‘Greek concerns are also our concerns’
Greece’s concerns “are also our concerns,” and the Greek borders are also European borders, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated during a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the heads of other EU institutions in Kastanies, Evros on Tuesday.
“We declare our European solidarity with Greece,” she said.
“The situation at our [EU] borders is not an issue Greece must handle alone, it is the responsibility of Europe as a whole and we will handle the problem with order, unity, solidarity and determination,” the European Commission president added.
Charles Michel: We live, act and are together and together we must protect our borders
Greece’s borders are European borders, European Council President Charles Michel stressed in Evros on Tuesday, stressing that it was very important in such situations for European officials “not to stay in Brussels but to be in the field, so that they have the best possible understanding.”
In joint statements with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the leaders of other European institutions from Kastanies in Evros, he praised Greece’s role in the protection of the borders because, as he said, “what you are doing is of crucial importance for the EU”. He expressed the EU’s complete solidarity, noting that “we are with you.”
Michel expressed his faith in the Greek government “for the additional reason that, even though you are doing very important work, we applaud that you are operating in accordance with European law.”
He added that on a European level, “we will continue to guarantee the agreement with Turkey and expect Turkey to comply with this agreement.”
Michel also noted the support for the UN’s effort to achieve a peaceful solution in Syria, adding that “we live, act and are together and together we must protect our borders.”
Croatian PM Plenkovic at Evros: ‘We support the Greek government’s efforts, which we have seen with our own eyes’
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday joined European officials on a visit to the Greek-Turkish border at Evros region to inspect migration flows from Turkey, and said, “We have come to express our support and solidarity with the Greek government and our determination to help Greece find a European response to this new migration situation.”
Plenkovic represented Croatia, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU.
“Our intention is to prevent 2015-2016 from happening again,” he said, referring to the start of the great migration crisis. “I have said many times that no other phenomenon has affected Europe’s political landscape and its member states as much as the migration crisis has over the last 4-5 years,” he added.
In conclusion, Plenkovic said that “we support the efforts of the Greek government, which we have seen with our own eyes.”