“The recognition by Russia yesterday of the unilateral declaration of ‘independence’ by the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements.
Also, like every revisionary initiative, it undermines international stability and progress,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.
Mitsotakis made the statement at the start of his meeting at the Maximos Mansion with a ministerial delegation from Bulgaria. This was led by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, who was accompanied by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister for Good Governance Kalina Konstantinova, e-Government Minister Bozhidar Bozhanov and Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov, the Bulgarian ambassador to Greece and other officials.
“Greece, as a fundamental principle, respects the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of all nations. It therefore unequivocally condemns actions that are contrary to these values and, as a member-state of the European Union and of NATO, it is already coordinating with its partners for a common and substantive response,” the Greek prime minister said.
He revealed that he has already contacted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, while he also referred to the large Greek community in the Ukraine, stressing that Greece “has one additional reason to be concerned and monitor the developments: the protection and support of the Greek expatriates in Ukraine and the large community in Mariupol, which has a presence of 2,000 years and more in the area and for which we are working.”
Regarding the possible repercussions of the escalating crisis on Greece, Mitsotakis said: “I want to assure all Greek citizens that we have, as a government, taken all necessary measures so that the supply of the country with natural gas remains secure and continues without obstruction.”
Welcoming the Bulgarian delegation, Mitsotakis expressed satisfaction that his visit to Sofia after the formation of the new government there signalled the launch of a more dynamic phase in the already excellent Greek-Bulgarian relations.
“Your visit today is taking place in this context. A visit that is happening in particularly crucial hours, [which] demand the coordination and cooperation of the member-states of the European Union and of NATO,” he added.
Mitsotakis noted that the global community “has an opportunity to resist the force of arms, the dispute of borders and international treaties. Civilisation and the conquests of the 21st century do not permit the world’s return to conditions of violence from other ages and to the solutions of interstate differences through arms,” adding that the responsibility of governments and people will be judged on this front.
He also gave assurances that Greece is willing to assist Bulgaria in securing adequate energy supplies.
During the meeting, the two sides expressed a mutual willingness to further deepen bilateral relations, with Mitsotakis highlighting the opportunities for cooperation presented through programmes for infrastructure connectivity in energy, transport and digital networks with added value, not just for the two countries but the region as a whole.
The two sides also stressed their common support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans and discussed developments in Ukraine.
In a discussion with Vassilev, the Greek prime minister noted the situation in Ukraine and Greece’s willingness to “support Bulgaria in every possible way so that it overcomes what we consider will be a short-lived crisis.”
“We are, of course, cooperating to complete the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline as soon as possible, which as you know is especially important for Bulgaria so that it has the option of diversifying its sources for the supply of natural gas,” Mitsotakis said.
Vassilev also expressed concern over the crisis in Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis and stressed the need for compliance with international law, which he said was being “brutally violated” at this time.
“We are also willing to work with Greece and assist in the issue of supplying eletrical power, to guarantee that there will no interruptions in its supply. But also to prepare all the plans that we intend to discuss in the context of cooperation between our two countries, such as the North-South connectivity issue, which is of vital importance for Europe,” Vassilev said.
He said the talks in Athens will focus on connectivity and the incorporation of energy systems and other projects that have been discussed for years, such as that of border crossings, or facilitating the flow of goods and people.
The Greek side was also represented by State Minister Akis Skertsos, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Fragogiannis, the head of the prime minister’s diplomatic office Ambassador Eleni Sourani, the prime minister’s diplomatic advisor Ambassador Anna-Maria Boura and Deputy government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni.