European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praises Greece's remarkable recovery and leadership


Leadership and Cooperation in the European Union

Today...Greece is a pillar of the international community and economy, Greece is a pillar of NATO, Greece is a pillar of our collective security and support to Ukraine and Greece is a strong and proud pillar of our European Union," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to tumultuous applause, during her address to ruling New Democracy's 15th Congress in Athens on Sunday. Von der Leyen is the lead candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) in the upcoming European elections and is seeking re-election as president of the European Commission.
"That is thanks, above all, to the people of Greece, it is thanks to all of you here in this room, and thanks to New Democracy and to you Kyriakos," she added, addressing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. "Thanks to you all, Greece's story in the last years is a story of amazing recovery and I want to pay tribute to you for that. This is impressive," von der Leyen said to the gathering, pointing out that, not so long ago, Greece had been staring into the abyss but had now become, under the leadership of the Mitsotakis government, an economic frontrunner.

"Under your leadership, Greece's economy has outperformed the Eurozone average. Under your leadership, Greece is driving growth and innovation, it is attracting investment from across the world, and it is home to some of your fastest-growing startups. And you have achieved all of this while supporting people where it matters, their wages, their pensions, their daily life...There is no doubt: you have done Greece proud, you have done Europe proud," she said.
Von der Leyen then noted that the key to Greece's transformation has been leadership, courage and trust to deliver on the things that really matter, adding: "In this more volatile and unstable world, this is exactly what Europe will need in the years ahead. And we know that we can do it. Since 2019 we have shown what we can do when Europe is united and ambitious. Together, we overcame a global pandemic, ensuring that citizens in every member-state got their vaccines at the same time. Together, we pulled our economies back from the brink with NextGeneration EU."
At this point, she thanked the Greek prime minister "for his invaluable leadership in making that happen."
Von der Leyen then spoke of the fight against climate change, noting that Europe was leading this together, through the European Green Deal, while at the same time showing true solidarity to those most affected. She noted that more than 10 countries had provided support to Greece in battling the devastating wildfires in the Alexandroupolis region, just as Greece had helped others in their time of need.
"This is European solidarity at its best," she emphasised.
Regarding migration, also, she pointed out, it was made clear that Europe will decide who enters the Union and on what terms, not the rings of traffickers, while she underlined the threat of populism, saying it was one of the biggest challenges now facing Europe. She referred to the efforts of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to "wipe out" Ukraine and also referred to his allies within the EU, which she said were openly defying European values. These parties may go by different names, von der Leyen commented, but their goal was the same: to destroy Europe. "We will not allow them to do this, we must stand up to them and strike back," she emphasised, noting that the Russian missile attack on Odesa during the Greek prime minister's visit there showed how ruthless Vladimir Putin could be.
The European Commission president concluded by saying that the EU must spend more, in a better and more European way, on defence, insisting that cooperation in defence must be "our future priority". She also noted that the EU must strengthen the competitiveness of its economy and social state, stressing that "the battle for democracy never ends."


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