President says Greece must return to growth while staying in euro, in New Year message

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President says Greece must return to growth while staying in euro, in New Year message

In a New Year message to all Greeks on Thursday, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that Greece must leave behind it the nightmare of social and economic crisis, returning to the path of hope, optimism, growth and progress while remaining in the Eurozone.

He also highlighted the refugee issue and noted that Greece, through no fault of its own, was "caught up in the vortex of the contemporary refugee tragedy," in addition to its own huge economic and social problems, and was dealing with them in ways that befitted its culture and history, with full respect for human values and its obligations under international and European law.

Pavlopoulos underlined that Greek forces were efficiently guarding the country's borders, which were also the borders of the European Union, and that Greece thus had the right but also the obligation to seek the solidarity of its EU partners to deal with the refugee tragedy, as well as the end of the warn in Syria. In addition, Greece had a right and obligation to demand that its partners adopt a common stance concerning the obligations of neighbouring Turkey, he added.

The president underlined that Greece will not back down one iota in the defence of its sovereign rights, regardless of the difficulties it faces, addressing messages specifically to Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

"To Turkey, we desire and sincerely support its European prospect. On the inviolable and self-evident condition, however, that it will also respect, fully and consistently, and always on the basis of European law and the entirety of international law, both written and customary, every kind of sovereign right of Greece," he said. Among others, and in relation to Cyprus, he noted that EU institutions must make clear that the presence of occupation troops on an EU member-state cannot be tolerated, and that the Cyprus issue was primarily a European and more generally, an international issue.

"A solution to the Cyprus problem is only conceivable with full respect of the European political and legal acquis and the entirety of international law concerning the viability, structure and sovereignty of the Cyprus Republic," he said.

Addressing FYROM, Pavlopoulos clarified that Greece wants to normalise and have closer relations with its northern neighbour and that, given FYROM's desire to join the EU and NATO, it cannot then claim a name that in addition to "grossly falsifying history, reeks of irredentism by leaving open, for example, issues of changing borders and inventing completely groundless ethnic minorities."

The president ended his message with a plea for national unity, especially among democratic political forces, in order for Greece to achieve its major national goals. History, he added, had repeatedly proved that division at times of crisis brought only irreparable harm to both the country and its people.

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