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GreeceGreece, Estonia both face challenges from eastern neighbors, PM Mitsotakis says in...

Greece, Estonia both face challenges from eastern neighbors, PM Mitsotakis says in Tallinn

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Greece and Estonia have a lot of things in common: they lie at EU borders, are maritime nations, face challenges from their eastern neighbors, and share the same values for an international rule of law, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in joint statements with his Estonian counterpart Kaja Kallas on Tuesday.

Mitsotakis, who noted his visit coincided with the centennial of Greece-Estonia diplomatic relations, also praised the digital model of Estonia, which he said inspired the Digital Governance ministry and “changed the way that Greek citizens and businesses conduct transactions with the state.”

Responding to questions on Greece’s stance in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Greek PM said “it is unfathomable that somebody in the European continent wants to change our borders violently, therefore we have committed to continue to provide Ukraine with all necessary support.”

EU sanctions

Asked whether it was acceptable ethically speaking that Greece has banned Russian citizens from coming to Greece as tourists as long as the Ukraine war is on, Mitsotakis responded, “While Greece did not support a blanket ban on all visits by Russian tourists to the EU, it has paid a price as a tourist destination as a result of its support of Ukraine and its support of sanctions.”

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“Frankly,” he added, “nobody from Russia came to Greece this summer, whereas almost all the Russians that wanted to travel went to Turkey.”

He also noted that the Ukrainians were very satisfied with the level of military support they have got from Greece and that Athens was open to all possibilities on the issue of Russian war crimes.

Kallas also commended Mitsotakis’ leadership as regards the policy with respect to Russia and the imposition of sanctions.

“Greece is on the right side of history,” she said, noting that Greece was an equal ally and a strong player in this issue, while Mitsotakis also highlighted the presence of the Greek minority in Ukraine – making note that over 100,000 Ukrainians of Greek descent live in Mariupol – and stressed that Greece “cares deeply about what happens [there]”.
Turkey

In response to an ANA question on energy prices and action on an EU level, Kallas emphasised the need to find a long-term solution for energy and stressed the need for unity. Mitsotakis expressed satisfaction that the last European Council made a decision for action, while also pointed out that markets took notice of the fact that the EU was serious about bringing down prices.

“One of the reasons why prices came down significantly is also because they know we are ready to act. Now is the time to act…” he said, adding that Greece was one of the first European countries to put in place a scheme to capture the windfall profits of energy producers and recycle them back to consumers, keeping prices of electricity for households at reasonable levels.

He also noted the contribution of the state budget to fund this support, however, and the fact that there was a limit to how much each state can spend on such support, making a European solution important.

Mitsotakis also thanked Estonia for supporting its position in regards with Turkey at European Council level. “There is only one way of resolving differences” between Greece and Turkey, that of International Law, and the Law of the Sea. “Our difference with Turkey relates to the delimitation of maritime zones. In Greece we have proven that we can resolve such issues: we signed an agreement of delimiting maritime zones with Egypt. Two countries that are essentially at war in the region, Israel and Lebanon, managed to sign a delimitation agreement. Therefore, there is no reason not to be able to do the same with Turkey. But for this to happen, provocations, unnecessary provocations, insulting rhetoric against Greece, and open challenge of the sovereignty of our islands, all these are absolutely unacceptable actions that must stop immediately,” he stressed.

Greek ships

On a question regarding the transportation of Russian oil by Greek ships, Mitsotakis said that the Greek shipping industry was fully compliant with EU decisions relating to sanctions on Russia, while pointing out that the ban did not extend to the transportation of Russian oil to non-EU destinations. He highlighted the need to strike a balance and not needlessly harm the European shipping industry, which was crucial for security of supply globally, for other countries to benefit.

“I am going to be the first to support any European decision regarding shipping that is going to be effective,” Mitsotakis stressed. “What we should not do is to shoot our European shipping industry – which is so crucial for security of supply globally – in the foot. (…) We must careful – and I believe we have achieved this – to modulate our sanctions to make sure that we impose pain on Russia – we also incur pain – but we need to keep this balance right,” he said.

The two prime ministers then took questions on digital transformation, with Kallas highlighting the possibilities for cooperation in e-justice and e-prescriptions. On cyber-security, she noted that Estonia invests heavily in this area following a series of cyber attacks from Russia, while pointing out the new threats that arise in an digitally interconnected world, which could impact civilians, such as through hospitals, making such investment imperative.

Cyber security

“We see currently, more and more cyber attacks against us but having invested so much in this area usually they are not successful,” Estonian PM Kallas said, noting that the system was designed in such a way as to be more resilient to attacks. The system is built in such a way that if one section is attacked, it will not result in the collapse of the entire system.
“Therefore, investing in cyber security systems and making them more resilient, I think it is also a message to everybody currently because of the hybrid war, the cyber war, the information war that is going on alongside the conventional war happening in Ukraine,” she said.

Mitsotakis highlighted the way that technology can transform daily life, such as with e-prescriptions, and promote transparency, while highlighting the potential for cooperation with Estonia on cyber security and cyber threats, noting that there was “a lot of expertise in Estonia that we can leverage” as such attacks “have become mainstream by state and also non-state actors”.

In addition, the Greek PM spoke of the struggle to fight disinformation, and its role in public dialogue, especially in countries scheduling upcoming elections (including Greece in 2023). “We need to be aware of the fact that there will be actors that will try to influence our electoral processes below the radar, using methods that we need to be able to anticipate.” That is why, he stressed, Greece is “very supportive of European agendas that promote transparency in the public sphere and make sure that everybody participates in the public debate but is also held accountable for what they say.”

SOURCE; ANA-MPA

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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