Joint Statement following the videoconference between Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, Ursula von der Leyen, on the left, and Kyriakos Mitsotakis© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, Ursula von der Leyen, on the left, and Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Due to the constraints and precautions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, held a videoconference on 8 October instead of their meeting initially scheduled to take place in Athens.

They agreed that Europe needs a predictable, fair and resilient migration management system, with the right balance between responsibility sharing and solidarity, and fully protecting European values and fundamental rights including the right to asylum. They committed to working together in this direction on the basis of the Commission’s proposals for the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The Greek side stressed the need for the New Pact to adequately address the pressures imposed to front line states.

Both sides stressed the continued urgency of the situation on the island of Lesvos following the fires in the Moria camp. They commended the rapid work of Greek first responders and recognised the key role of immediate European assistance.

They recalled the significant joint efforts in the last 9 months to alleviate overcrowding and improve the conditions on the islands, including via the European scheme to relocate unaccompanied children, while acknowledging that more work is needed to guarantee the protection of those on the islands, as well as address the impact on local communities which have experienced considerable pressure over the last years.

In this respect, they committed to support the work of the Task Force created by the Commission to put in place a joint pilot to manage migration and asylum processes, including by setting up appropriate new facilities on Lesvos. This is a reflection of the proposals in the New Pact, recalling both the need for continued strengthening of the Greek migration and asylum system in line with European principles, and for European solidarity.

Their discussion also focused on the strategy to ensure that Greece and the entire EU can emerge stronger, both economically and socially from the current pandemic. As other Member States, Greece will greatly benefit from NextGenerationEU, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility that aims to support the EU’s common priorities along with the member states’ specific requirements. They welcomed the continued close cooperation between Greece and the Commission, and looked forward to the presentation of the draft proposal of the Greek recovery and resilience plan in the coming weeks. Both sides expressed their conviction that this plan will reflect an ambitious reform and investment agenda towards a greener, more digital and inclusive growth to the benefit of the Greek people, in particular the young generation.

Finally, the two Leaders also discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in light of the latest disturbing developments related to Varosha and reiterated that full respect of UN Security Council Resolutions remains essential. They expressed their resolve to act on the basis of the European Council Conclusions of 2 October, reiterating that Turkey has to undertake the necessary steps to reduce the tensions in the region, and to engage in a constructive dialogue with Greece, Cyprus and the EU. They both look forward to the forthcoming discussion at the level of the European Council.