Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has asserted that the country "will not be blackmailed by Russia" despite the recent impact on Europe and Greece's residents of rising energy prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Global energy prices have risen sharply, primarily as a result of the invasion of Ukraine and European efforts to move away from dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the geopolitical and economic importance of energy has been obvious, with the war bringing higher energy prices, with knock-on effects for the cost of living crisis.
Mitsotakis has spoken about the issues in an interview on Bloomberg TV with journalist Caroline Hyde and of Greece's plans to move beyond the crisis whilst ensuring social cohesion for citizens.
"We have to send a very clear signal that we will not be blackmailed by Russia when it comes to the availability and the price of gas.
"We need to do it at the national level and we also need more European co-operation," says Mitsotakis, who has personally been making the case for imposing a cap on all gas that has been imported into the European Union since March.
Albeit unsure that this will be achievable for the EU, Mitsotakis believes that important decisions have already been made at the European level in terms of reducing dependence on Russian gas.
"At the same time in order to make sure that we maintain social cohesion, we need to support our societies and we need to do it both by spending money from the budget but also by recycling windfall profits from the energy producers into special funds that will help us subsidise the prices of electricity and gas," states Mitsotakis, saying that this is exactly the strategy that the Greek government has taken.
"I think we were pioneers," he says.
"If you look at what the European Commission is currently suggesting other European countries should do, they are really following the Greek model which has already been put in place for three months and is really delivering."
As a result, the Greek government has been able to reclaim more than €2 billion in extra profits to be placed in a special fund which allows it be able able to offer financial support to households and businesses to make sure that they make it through what is a difficult winter.
"If we do not do that then there is a real risk that our society will not go along with us supporting Ukraine and will start putting pressure on us to compromise - which frankly, is not an option," asserts Mitsotakis.
As the transition away from gas is taking place, Mitsotakis says that there needs to be an even greater acceleration in putting in place renewable energy - an area that Greece has been focused on, and indeed leading the world in.
"We are leaders in Greece," he says. "We are one of the top ten countries in terms of the participation of renewables in our electricity mix."
"We will be adding almost 2 GigaWatts of renewable energy just in 2022.
"We continue to invest in our grids and of course we aspire for Greece to play a regional role as an entry point for energy into the European Union.
"We are beefing up our energy infrastructure, so we want to bring in more energy through Greece not just to serve the needs of the Greek market but also to support our Balkan neighbours and of course we want to build electricity interconnections between Greece, the Middle East, Cyprus, Israel but also Egypt."
We have to send a clear signal: we will not be blackmailed by Russia when it comes to the availability and price of gas. And we need to support our societies, using our budget, but also by using windfall profits from energy producers to subsidize electricity and gas prices. pic.twitter.com/s3e4LLZWTv
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) September 22, 2022