Journalist: Do you believe that if President Putin used chemical weapons in Ukraine, that is a red line?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I would certainly hope that this does not happen but we need to be ready for that possibility. And what is important is that we will send a very clear signal today that the Alliance is totally united in terms of supporting Ukraine in this existential struggle. And I also consider it very important that many European member States have realized, as a result of this crisis, that Europe needs to increase its geopolitical footprint, needs to spend more on defense. Greece is a country that has been spending more than 2% on defense for quite some time. And this concept of European strategic autonomy is totally complementary with the Alliance. And I would very much expect that this strong relationship will be formalized at the Madrid Summit in June.
Journalist: Do you believe gas sanctions are essential?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I think we need to be very careful in terms of making sure that whatever measures we implement end up not being more painful for European citizens than for Russia. I do believe that the sanctions package we have put in place is robust. I think the focus needs to be right now on making sure that there is no sanctions leakage, that all countries that are part of this Alliance are part of the sanctions measures.
And at the same time, as far as Europe is concerned, what we need to do is to move as quickly as possible to reduce our dependence on Russian oil and gas. This is the decision we took in Versailles. And of course, we also need to be sure (to) exercise the collective market power of Europe in terms of driving down gas prices. Because the real problem that we are facing now in Europe is the connection between very high gas prices and very high electricity prices.
This is a topic that will be discussed at the Council this afternoon. Greece has put forward very specific proposals in terms of using our collective market power to drive down gas prices, because we need to make sure that our citizens, our businesses do not incur a disproportionate cost, when it comes to making sure that we enforce these sanctions.
Journalist: Do you believe that a recession is possible as a result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: My expectation is that there certainly will be a dent in growth given our projections, and this is the price that we will all have to pay to stand up against an aggression. No, I don’t think that a recession is possible. But again, it is up to us, especially the European countries, to be creative, to think out of the box when it comes to making sure that we put a lid on the increase in gas prices that is currently really doing a lot of damage across Europe.