Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday met with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in The Hague, where the two statesmen confirmed that “bilateral relations are excellent,” in joint statements after their meeting.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the two countries were working closely together in the EU, NATO and the UN and were “important economic partners,” adding that their talks had covered the problems of the region, such as migration, but “had mainly focused on how to bring about economic growth in Greece.”
He also praised Mitsotakis by saying that “we have a prime minister whose goal is to bring about more investment and growth.”
Rutte stressed that “ we want to provide technical know-how, for example in the agricultural sector. The Netherlands is already active in Greece and we will discuss how to support structural reforms in this sector. We want to help and we both have a common interest.”
“We also discussed Europe and major problems such as Brexit,” said Rutte, then moved on to say that Mitsotakis’ visit was “‘good” and so was their discussion.
“Greece is a very beautiful country but much needs to be done by its new prime minister,” Rutte noted.
Mitsotakis thanked Prime Minister Rutte “for the warm welcome and the positive response of the Netherlands in trying to move forward decisively, and together, towards the future.” He added that “after 10 years of crisis, Greece is broadening its horizons, and we do not forget that Europe stood by our side.”
Referring to migration flows, Mitsotakis said that Greece has taken the first steps towards decongesting refugee reception facilities on the Greek islands, but he underlined that Europe must also contribute to the protection of the borders because Greece’s borders are also the external borders of the EU.
“The Netherlands is a special ally,” Mitsotakis highlighted, noting that “it is a pioneer in economic diplomacy, from which we have much to learn, and we look forward to our cooperation so that the Foreign Ministry can also benefit of its experience.”
Mitsotakis noted that “we want to open Greece’s door to foreign investments because they bring new jobs to our country, and will bring back the thousands of skilled Greeks that today prosper outside our borders, while many live and work in the Netherlands.”
“We talked about the need for a single European asylum policy, especially among the countries in the Schengen area,” Mitsotakis said, adding that “I do not forget that the EU-Turkey Joint Statement was achieved under the Dutch Presidency [of the EU].”
“Greece will do its best to intensify (migrants’) returns to Turkey and at the same time ensure humane living conditions for those who remain in our country,” he added.
At the same time, Mitsotakis presented the government’s programme for rapid and effective structural reforms that, as he said, Greece needs. “A programme that has comparative advantages and includes the obvious synergies between the Greek and Dutch economies,” he added, and noted that “such a sector is the agrifood industry, where the Netherlands has innovative technology.”
Finally, the Greek premier stressed that the rest of Europe “must also ensure that refugees are distributed fairly throughout the member states.”
“There can be no countries that enjoy the benefits of joining the Schengen area without also assuming part of the responsibility for managing the refugee issue,” Mitsotakis said, adding that “this is not European solidarity and I believe that we agree on this with the Dutch Prime Minister.”