Mr. Mitsotakis is expected to emphasize to his counterparts the need to coordinate and react to the humanitarian disaster caused by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria
By Penelope Galliou
With all eyes on the unspeakable tragedy unfolding in Turkey and Syria, the European Council is meeting today and tomorrow, with the issue of the huge humanitarian crisis that has arisen occupying the agenda of European leaders.
Having declared and also shown in practice the support and solidarity of Greece towards the peoples being tested, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, according to government officials, as he has already underlined, is expected to emphasize to his counterparts the need for coordination and reaction to the humanitarian disaster caused by the earthquakes in both Turkey and Syria.
He is even expected to refer to Greece’s immediate reaction to neighboring Turkey, noting that our country was the first country to send aid to Turkey, while he is also expected to emphasize the need for coordination, as help will also be needed for the long-term consequences of the earthquake.
As for Syria, the conditions prevailing in the country make the situation more complicated and for this reason the Greek Prime Minister is expected to underline the need for international coordination as well as the finding of European tools in order to deal with the humanitarian disaster there as well. In this context and according to the same sources, Mr. Mitsotakis will declare our country’s intention to send humanitarian or other aid to Syria through the European Civil Protection Mechanism and in cooperation and coordination with European partners.
The Summit of the 27 is also expected to be concerned with the migration issue, with Greece’s position and pursuit to remain irrevocably supporting the frontline countries facing the pressure of migration flows at their borders. Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to inform the European leaders about the situation facing Greece and the pressure it receives from the migration flows, stressing that the challenge is daily both at the EU’s land and sea borders.
For this reason, he will insist on the need to finance with European funds aerial surveillance tools of the sea borders and artificial barriers, in order to close the corridors of illegal immigration and smugglers. “Balance and solidarity” will be – according to government sources – the concepts that the prime minister will use, calling for a holistic approach to the issue, as well as cooperation on the issue of direct returns to countries whose nationals are not entitled to international protection.
Already, however, eight EU countries including Greece, in view of the Summit, signed a letter in which they request an “innovative” reform of asylum and the strengthening of border protection, while they appeal to avoid a “new significant migration crisis”.
Austria, Denmark, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia argue that “the current asylum system is flawed” and demand a response from the EU, hoping for progress today and tomorrow from European leaders and focusing on the need “to strengthen the protection of external borders” mainly through “infrastructure development”. The aim is also for the EU to bear the costs of erecting fences, which the Commission does not currently approve, but it has opened the door to funding surveillance tools such as cameras or motion detectors.
At the table of 27, the economy will also be discussed, as a continuation of the discussion that started from the previous Summit and concerned the European response to the American Inflation Reduction Act. The debate on this is expected to focus on the proposals tabled by the European Commission to strengthen European industry as it moves towards climate neutrality.
At the same time, the debate is largely expected to focus on the relaxation of state aid rules – which, however, favors larger countries that also have bigger budgets to support their businesses. This was already pointed out by Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the time, who – according to government sources – will insist on the fact that this is not enough and can create even greater disparities between the member states.
It is also expected to point out that greater flexibility is required in the use of European financial tools, as was done during the pandemic, a position with which other countries are also drawn up, such as, for example Italy. In addition, the Greek prime minister is expected to underline the need for Europe to move more ambitiously to support its businesses in the green transition and to put money on the table, as it had done with RepowerEU.
Finally, on the agenda of the Synod is also support for Ukraine and its European perspective – in view of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on 24.2.2022.
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