Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos, in his meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Presidential Mansion on Thursday, cited Jean-Claude Juncker’s phrase that “we need more solidarity in Europe.”
Pavlopoulos described the refugee crisis as an “existential issue” for the European Union and stressed the need to strengthen the EU’s foreign and security policy pillar. “We must all strive for at least a rudimentary [common] foreign and security policy, because this is necessary for the EU’s path towards final unification,” he noted.
He noted that the refugee issue also creates a need to consider the importance of solidarity for the EU’s course. “We cannot have partners who do not meet their basic obligations as far as refugees are concerned. It is an issue of democracy and respect for fellow human beings,” he underlined.
Sanctions on all those who were actually turning against Europe and the European edifice were in the right direction, Pavlopoulos said and added: “Do not forget that such behaviors are those that nourish all these populist formations, which come up to the fringes of neo-Nazism.”
He also referred to the excellent bilateral relations between Greece ad Germany and their cooperation on key issues concerning EU policy, while welcoming the statements made by the German foreign minister about a unified Europe, at a critical moment for the future of the EU.
On his part, Maas thanked Pavlopoulos for his warm reception and the opportunity to discuss Europe’s future course.
He pointed out that he was arriving in Athens shortly after Greece’s exit from the memoranda and expressed his own and the German government’s respect for the Greeks and what they have accomplished. As he noted, “the politicians succeeded but so has Greek society, which has had to cope with some difficult situations and decisions.”
He said that “the EU supported Greece throughout this period”, which – as he pointed out – was good for Greece, but was also in the interests of the EU and its member states.
“It was a sign of lasting solidarity,” he said, citing the president of the European Commission.
He shared the positions of the Greek president on the future of Europe and the need to strengthen the EU’s foreign and security policy pillar, while referring to the major challenges facing the European edifice.
With regard to the refugee issue, he stressed the need for all partners to assume their responsibilities and not enjoy only the rights while setting aside the obligations that come with EU membership.