Meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Minister President of the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Armin Laschet, Minister President of the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, at Maximou Palace.
Mr Mitsotakis and Mr Laschet discussed the important measures announced at the recent EU Summit, which are aimed at creating the right conditions for economic recovery in the EU, hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. Bilateral economic relations were also discussed, focusing on the considerable room for improvement regarding German investment in Greece.
The Prime Minister referred to the challenges of the pandemic and the Greek government’s initiatives to address it in a timely manner, as well as the provisions taken to gradually restart tourism with a view to maximum safety for all. Greece is ready and has already been welcoming German visitors for some time, taking all precautionary and health protection measures.
Special emphasis was placed on migration, underlining the need for practical solidarity from all EU Member States in order to address this highly important issue for Greece and Europe at their eastern borders.
The issue of Turkish provocations was also discussed in the context of the European Union’s ongoing plan for the European response. Kyriakos Mitsotakis pointed out that the recent decision of the Turkish leadership to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a provocative act, which, as was stressed, has a particularly negative impact on German public opinion, as well.
In their statements at the start of the meeting they noted:
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I am delighted to welcome you to Maximou Palace so that we can resume a discussion that started when we met in Berlin. You have come at a very interesting and difficult juncture, when we are facing a number of crises and challenges at the same time. I consider it extremely important that we have succeeded in agreeing on a very bold step towards the establishment of the Recovery Fund in Europe, from which Greece is expecting significant benefits. At the same time, we are at a stage where all European countries will have to be more vigilant for the coming months, at least until the Coronavirus vaccine is found. Because we all realise that we can no longer go for a global lockdown, a second global lockdown of our economies. At the same time, we are always faced with the challenge of migration flows -an issue which is also of great interest to you because of your portfolio-, which have largely kept under control as a country, and I am pleased that this is also recognised by Germany, but also by Europe as a whole. After all, Greece is not only guarding its own borders, but also Europe’s borders. So I am welcoming you once again in the belief that we’re going to have an extremely interesting and productive conversation.
Armin Laschet: (German translation from the interpreter): *
Thank you very much, Prime Minister, for inviting me to visit you in Greece. This is a very important year for the relationship between Greece and Germany. 60 years ago Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the agreement with Greece so that Greeks could work in Germany and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where we have the largest Greek community in all of Europe. Greeks helped in the reconstruction of Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia. We had the opportunity to talk in March, and I believe that we will go a little deeper into the various issues during our talks today. It is very important that Greece has managed to remain in the Euro Area. We can see that economic growth has a very positive outlook in Greece and we will, thus, discuss these aspects as well in the context of our meeting today. We will raise the issue of change in the energy sector, where Greece is proceeding with the de-lignitisation and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has the potential to support Greece in this regard in terms of both wind and solar energy.
There are many common challenges that both Greece and Germany are facing together, and we need to see how we can tackle such challenges. During the Coronavirus crisis, Greece has managed to deal with the situation in an excellent manner, and take all necessary measures in the tourism sector. We have also seen that you have already taken very important measures and decisions on the issue of digitisation this week. On the question of immigration, we would like to express our sincere thanks to the Greek Government for allowing us to visit Lesbos island together. Prime Minister, you have managed to put the system in order. As the security of our external borders is very important, Greece should be granted the necessary assistance. It is our common duty to secure the external borders, hence support should be given to both the islands and the country in general. So the message I’d like to get across is the following: when a refugee enters the Greek territory, they actually enter European territory, so we can only deal with this situation joining forces. Therefore, guarding the borders and treating these people humanely will also bring order to the European Union. These issues have also been discussed with the German Chancellor and all the necessary steps will be taken under the German Presidency, and I thank you very much again for this opportunity.
On the German side, the meeting was attended by: Mr. Ernst Reichel, German Ambassador to Greece, Mr. Joachim Stamp, Deputy Minister for Migration, Mr. Mark Speich, Minister for Foreign Affairs responsible for Federal and European Affairs, and Mr. Christian Wiermer, Government spokesman.
On the Greek side, the meeting was attended by the Greek Deputy Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, the Director of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office, Ambassador Eleni Surani, the Head of the Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, Alexis Patelis and the Director of the Prime Minister’s Press Office, Dimitris Tsiodras.