Statesman Constantine Karamanlis has had the “lingering insight” to pursue Greece’s membership of the European family since 1961, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday in a speech at the Constantine G. Karamanlis Foundation on “Greece’s path towards a unified Europe”.
The application for membership in June 1975 raised doubts in other countries, but found a staunch ally in French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, but the persistence of the founder of New Democracy, who served as prime minister then president, has been vindicated in the past 40 years, Mitsotakis said. Membership came in January 1981, followed by what he called two landmark events, Greece’s accession to the euro area and Cyprus’s accession to the EU.
The participation of Greece in European events was a central political choice for the whole of the center-right, with Constantine Karamanlis at the head ”, declared the Prime Minister. “The deepening of democracy and the progress of the country are now aligned with Europe,” he added. The country’s membership also paved the way for the accession of southern European countries, including Spain and Portugal.
The Prime Minister said that the party founded by Karamanlis “was and will be the party of Greece in Europe”, and that his own government has made efforts to strengthen Athens’ institutional presence in Brussels. Despite the challenges, the choice of Karamanlis “is now established” and the late statesman would have been proud to see his party’s continued support for European membership. In addition, Greece can now protect its own borders and in doing so also protect the borders of the EU, he stressed.
“Greece in 2021 is radically different from Greece in 1981, because there has not been a public domain that has not benefited from the influence of the EU, as Constantine Karamanlis so wisely predicted – from financing infrastructure and restructuring agricultural production to expanding rights, rule of law, social cohesion and cultural creativity, ”Mitsotakis said. “The revocation of protectionism within the common market may have initially highlighted the infrastructural weaknesses of our economy, but in the medium term it has improved its functionality.”
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