President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos, in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, stressed the sacrifices made by Greeks and the heavy economic and social cost of their efforts to remain in the EU and its inner core, the eurozone, even by paying for mistakes that could not be attributed to the country.
Pavlopoulos underlined Chancellor Merkel’s support to Greece in its effort to exit the painful period of the memoranda. Referring to their previous meeting in Berlin in January 2016, he recalled that she contributed to clearing up some misunderstandings regarding Greece’s irreversible decision to remain in the EU and the eurozone.
“With this stance, in addition to your long-standing friendship with Greece, you have further proved your European leadership. And this is because everyone now acknowledges that by defending Greece’s EU course, you were defending the cohesion of the European Union and the eurozone,” he said and added: “Greece does not see its future outside of our European family, but the European Union could not retain its historic character without Greece.”
He also referred to the upcoming and crucial European elections, highlighting the common historical debt, based on the tradition established by the “Fathers” of the European Union and the reasons they gave for its foundation: to defend the EU vigorously and to cooperate with sincerity and determination to eliminate dangerous populist formations that have sprung up in many member-states that openly conspire against the European edifice, European democracy and European culture.
The President said that “every conscientious European must know, especially now, that European integration is necessary, not only for the peoples of the EU but also for Europe to play its global role in the modern world, especially when other forces fail or do not want to play this role, although their historical perspective requires that they do so: I refer to the role of defending, in particular, the principles and values of peace, humanity, solidarity, democracy and justice and particularly social justice.”
Referring to the bilateral relations between Greece and Germany, he underlined that they are at an exceptional level and reiterated that Greece’s claims with respect to the WWII forced occupation loan and reparations for the war crimes of the Nazi occupation regime are legally active and judicially enforceable.
He noted that “we must resolve the issue in the competent forum of justice on the basis of our common international and European legal culture.”
The President stressed the obligation “to fight for the realization of our common European vision, for the completion of the European edifice” and said this effort should focus on three pillars.
The first, he explained, concerned the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, where he underlined the need to strengthen the policy of fully applying the rules of European law on solidarity to the refugee issue. In this regard, he also highlighted Merkel’s leading role, as well as the personal cost to her, and reiterated that all the partners have a European debt, which the Greeks are meeting in full.
The second pillar concerned – as he said – growth in the EU and the eurozone, which must be sufficient and sustainable. “This requires, as a matter of priority, the activation of the institutional pillars, of the eurogroup’s collective operation, the full use of the ESM’s role as a European Monetary Fund and, above all, of the European Central Bank. In order to adequately supervise the whole European banking system and to address the burning liquidity and public debt issues across the eurozone,” the President noted.
The third pillar, according to Pavlopoulos, concerns the defencee of the European Social State of Law. “In order to address, within the member states, the dangerous increase in inequality and the risks of a disruption of the social fabric which, unfortunately, favours the emergence of populist or even neo-Nazi structures, which aim to tear down Europe,” he concluded.