Aristotelia Peloni: Good evening. We are ready for your questions to the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. First question, Mr. Yiannis Kantelis from SKAI.
Yiannis Kantelis (SKAI): Another mandate from the European Council to the Energy Ministers to find a solution on Monday 19 December. It’s not the first time. Why do you think they will now find a solution? And if this solution will be close to the goals set by Greece, i.e. a price cap below 200 euros.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I am sure that this time the Energy Ministers will find a solution, as we are now quite close to the relevant negotiations.
Indeed, it is sad that it took us so many months to reach a decision which was self-evident, to limit the prices of natural gas in order to prevent its instrumentalization by Russia. But this time, Mr. Kanteli, I am really optimistic – and the mandate we gave our Ministers is very clear – that on December 19th we will have a decision which will be in line with Greece’s aspirations.
There is now a general understanding, I would say, at the level of my counterparts that we cannot waste time and refer the issue once more to the future.
Sofia Fasoulaki (OPEN): Good evening, Prime Minister. We have been informed that there has been a lot of discussion about the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and I would like to ask what our position is. If any substantial response is expected and when do you expect it?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Look, the American intervention, which is called the “Inflation Reduction Act”, is essentially a big state support of the United States for clean technologies and the companies that develop them. And there is, I think, an understanding in the European Council -I also argued in favor of that view- that we cannot stand still and see many European companies move to the United States simply because they have the capacity to provide a more favorable incentive framework than we can in Europe.
We have tools at our disposal and I am not only referring to the RRF, but also to REPowerEU which has now been approved. But we need to further strengthen the European financial envelope, in order to support European industry and European enterprises.
It is important that we have given a mandate to the European Commission, very soon, at the end of January, to come up with concrete proposals. I estimate that we may have an extraordinary European Council in February and I say this because we cannot waste time. Companies are comparing Europe’s competitiveness with that of the United States, and if we don’t move fast, I’m afraid we’re going to face a problem of European de-industrialisation. This does not only concern Greece, it concerns Europe as a whole.
And of course we should bear in mind that we may be relaxing the rules of state aid. This, however, primarily favors the richest countries. Not all countries have the same capacity to support their domestic industry, which is why I will continue to insist that we must increase the European response. To put it very simply: let’s put more European money on the table.
Spyros Mourelatos (ANT1): Mr. President, if you allow me, I would like to move to domestic issues. We have the debate on the Budget the day after tomorrow. I want to ask, because it is a discussion that takes place amid the pre-election campaign, the informal one anyway, but it is so as we approach the election date of 2023, whether there is a surprise as regards the economic part. Because in the previous Cabinet you talked about a 1 billion euro reserve aimed at supporting vulnerable households and businesses. And how all this can be combined again with your indication that there must be strict fiscal discipline.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: First of all, let me tell you, Mr. Mourelatos, that many of you would probably not have bet that this government would submit and vote on its fourth Budget. This in itself proves that we are consistent in our commitments to complete the four-year term. Beyond that, please allow me not to go into detail about what I will say in my speech on Saturday.
Evidently, I will outline our policy framework for the coming year, after all, this is what the Budget is all about. But I will also be given the opportunity to make an overall assessment of what I believe to be a successful economic policy of the past four years, but also to outline my vision, my plan for the next four years, as I have not hidden that we have an eight-year plan for our country.
2023 happens to be the fourth year of our government’s term. However, as you also said, it will be a pre-election year at the same time. So I think the citizens need to know what are the clear choices before them and what are the plans of the parties that claim the privilege of governing this country, as to how they perceive the management of critical economic issues.
Maria Psara (STAR): Mr. Prime Minister, lately, in the last few days, Greece has again been at the forefront of the international press and in the comments about a corruption case. Do you think that the Kaili case, so to speak, Qatargate, is damaging the image of Greece and its negotiating position?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Look, it’s a very unpleasant story. I will refrain from making specific comments and I will fully respect the Belgian Judiciary, which is investigating the case. The charges, however, are very serious. I can certainly tell you that the prestige of the country has been substantially upgraded and cannot be affected by such an isolated case.
Beyond that, I will only repeat what I had the opportunity to say yesterday: this case does not concern our own political family. It is not about New Democracy. We never rushed, on the occasion of this matter, to make overall comments about the Socialists and in this case about PASOK to which Ms. Kaili belongs.
However, I am not going to, under any circumstances, accept this practice that the leader of PASOK has adopted, sort of charging Ms Kaili to New Democracy and the European People’s Party, when we all know that she has been a long-standing member of PASOK. And after all, she was elected together with Mr. Androulakis. PASOK voters themselves voted for them in two consecutive European elections.
Georgia Skitzi (ERT): Mr. Prime Minister, in this case, I will refer to the President of SYRIZA, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, who mentioned, here from Brussels and on the occasion of Qatargate, that the Belgian Judiciary reacted quickly – as he said – unlike the Greek Judiciary in the wiretapping scandal. And he added that we must – as Mr. Tsipras said – fight for the restoration of justice everywhere and I would like to ask what is your comment on this?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I am impressed that Mr. Tsipras is saying these things here in Brussels, because from what I remember when he visited the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court in Athens, he said other things. And I believe that we have at least agreed on the fact that we have complete confidence in the Greek Judiciary to clarify this case.
So, the fact that Mr. Tsipras is traveling abroad as a former Prime Minister, not simply as the leader of SYRIZA, to defame the country and to cast doubt on the ability of the Greek Judiciary to clarify this case, I consider it to be a practice which, in any case, is not consistent with the role of a man who was Prime Minister of the country for four years.
Nikos Armenis (MEGA): Mr. Prime Minister, today, the European General Prosecutor requested the lifting of the immunity of Eva Kaili and Maria Spyraki. Ms. Spyraki stated that the case has nothing to do with Qatargate. SYRIZA asks you to impeach her. What do you say about all this?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I was informed, Mr. Armenis, of this case while I was at the European Council. This is a serious case. I don’t yet have a full picture. You will allow me to return to Athens, look into the matter and reply on this matter tomorrow.
Evangelia Tsikrika (Alpha): Mr. Prime Minister, Egypt’s move to actually “tear in two” the Turkish-Libyan memorandum is causing intense irritation in Turkey. What is your answer to Ankara?
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Look, I can talk about the initiatives of the Greek Government. Beyond that, I think there is a common understanding with Egypt on how we perceive the way in which we should delimit the maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Besides, I want to remind you that Greece and Egypt have already progressed to a partial delimitation, which is completely compatible with the rules of International Law, which is why it has been recognized by everyone. In contrast to the Turkish-Libyan memorandum which has not been recognized by anyone. That is why we all consider it – when we say all I mean the entire European family – as invalid and as a text which produces virtually no legal effect.