The Greek Ambassador at the EU explains the semester’s priorities which “will have a Spartan budget but Athenians values.” Labor and immigration at the top of the list
On relations with Turkey we should not expect much from the Greek presidency of the EU in the next six months, the Cyprus issue still burns too much. For the rest, Athens will seek to carry out the policies already underway, with a minimal team due to the crisis; “We will have a Spartan budget but Athenian values,” explained Theodoros Sotiropoulos, the Greek Ambassador at the EU at a meeting promoted by the European Policy Centre. Among the topics discerned is an initiative on maritime policy.
“The speed of the EU’s reaction must rise to the seriousness and urgency of the problems,” began Sotiropoulos in a crowded meeting in a hotel in Brussels. “In Europe today we must face the financial and economic crisis, protecting our common currency through the strengthening of economic and monetary union and accelerating growth to come out of the recession and sustain employment. At the same time – he added, though – the security challenges of our external borders require us to immediately address issues on immigration.”
So there will be three priorities for the Greek Presidency from January to June 30, 2014: Promoting growth, employment and cohesion, recalling the social dimension “that has prominence in the EU” and developing initiatives for the work of young people; Deepening the Economic and Monetary Union with the “primary objective” of protecting the Euro and working on the coordination of national fiscal policies, in particular Athens will endeavor to reach an agreement for the Single Resolution Mechanism for the banking crisis; Migration and border management, in order to preserve the safety of citizens by reducing illegal immigration respecting human rights. This goal will be shared as a priority by the subsequent Italian Presidency, as Prime Minister Enrico Letta announced a few weeks ago.
Sotiropoulos said, Greece then has its theme – EU maritime policies. “We want to restart with the approval of a text that has two fundamental dimensions: security and growth.”
The diplomat has often made references to Italy, who will hold the presidency after Greece, stating that “we are already working closely with the Italians,” whereas with others the dialogue is not as easy, like with the Macedonians and Turks. The issue of the first ones approaching the EU “is not a priority,” said Sotiropoulos, while with Ankara the problem is that “some chapters are not opened because Turkey is not recognized as a member of the EU, whose territory is one-third occupied.” In short, it must be Ankara to takes steps towards the EU, “they must fulfill their commitments,” he stressed.
Here you can read Sotiropoulos’s speach