Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Acting Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte on Friday in The Hague.

I remember the discussions in 2011, 2012 and 2015, that Greece will never recover the investment grade, Mark Rutte characteristically mentioned to Mr. Mitsotakis, while he spoke of very successful talks with Turkey in the wake of Erdogan’s visit to Athens.

This was followed by an extended meeting of the delegations where views were exchanged on issues of European interest, in view of the European Council Summit next week (December 14-15) and the EU-Western Balkans Summit that will precede it (December 13).

Regarding the debate on the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework, the Prime Minister reiterated the need to strengthen resources for Migration and the response to natural disasters.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Mark Rutte exchanged views on the Western Balkans as well as on developments in the Middle East. The latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean were also discussed. The Prime Minister informed Mr. Rutte about yesterday’s visit by the President of Turkey and the signing of the Declaration on Friendship and Good Neighborly Relations.

At the start of the meeting, the two leaders made the following statements:

Mark Rutte: I want to welcome my dear friends and my colleague from Greece here in my office. I think this is the second time I have hosted you here, and I was your guest in November 2021. We are close allies. We cooperate in NATO, in the European Union. We have similar positions on many issues. On a bilateral level, I think we have a great relationship. Going through the agenda, there were not many points where we have problems, but instead many points of cooperation.

I think it is particularly important that we have this meeting, because next week we will have a fairly crucial European Council, where Ukraine will be discussed, obviously, the EU budget, which is also linked to the money for Ukraine, but also obviously the issue of enlargement. We hope to take a positive decision on the Commission’s proposals, but we are not at that point yet, and there are many other issues.

Of course, I also want to hear from you later tonight about your successful talks yesterday, at least that’s what the press reported, very successful talks with Turkey. All these issues will be on the agenda. But again, Kyriakos, thank you very much for your visit. It is a real honor for me. We will also spend a pleasant evening, with hard work, first of all, but I believe pleasant.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Thank you very much, Mark, for the hospitality. I remember the first time I came to this office, I had just been elected Prime Minister, in 2019. I had made it a point to come and visit you on one of my first trips abroad. I could not fail to mention that Greece has made significant progress since I was here in terms of our economic performance.

Mark Rutte: Since then, and I should have mentioned this, you have left the non-investment grade ratings behind. Sorry, I should have mentioned that Greece has now regained investment grade.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Greece has regained the investment grade from the rating agencies.

Mark Rutte: I remember the discussions in 2011, 2012 and 2015, that this could never happen.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis: We point this out because you were present throughout the crisis and I believe that it is good, especially for the more experienced colleagues in the Council, that the progress that Greece has made be noted. We are back to normal and this for us, of course, is a very important achievement.

Of course, as you pointed out, we have an excellent bilateral relationship and we always coordinate very closely before critical European Councils. The next Council will be important. We have very difficult issues on the agenda: Ukraine, the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework and the adjustment that needs to be made taking into account the fact that we have new needs. But of course also the issues of enlargement. We are particularly concerned about enlargement with regard to the Western Balkans, as are you.

The better coordinated we are, the less likely we are to spend our Saturday in Brussels. Of course, however long it takes, we want to reach concrete conclusions at the Summit. And of course, that always requires significant preparation and consultations like the ones we’re talking about.”