Greece said on Friday it is ready to “warmly welcome” members of the Greek community in Ukraine and Mariupol, in particular, should they want to leave.
“Greece will stand by the Greek communities in Ukraine and especially that in Mariupol. If there are Greeks who want to leave Ukraine we will warmly welcome them,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
Rockets hit the epicenter of the Greek community in Ukraine
A residential area of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine was hit by shelling on Thursday as residents worried that Russian forces will try to take the strategic port city.
There are more than 100,000 Greeks living in the wider region of the Ukrainian city. Amateur footage shared on Twitter shows that rockets have hit installations at Mariupol as Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine.
Earlier in February, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged its citizens to leave Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, joining many nations around the globe that have already withdrawn citizens and diplomatic staff.
Greece condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Russia’s aggressive actions violate International Law, and they also harm European and international security and stability, noted Mitsotakis, at the extraordinary virtual summit of NATO heads of state & government, held via secure teleconference on Friday.
The Greek premier added that Greece upholds the principles of respect to territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of all countries, and he condemned Russia’s revisionist actions which run against these principles, it was reported.
Revisionism is a major threat to world peace and it should not be tolerated, he added, while he also suggested that all NATO-member states commit to implementing the framework of sanctions against Russia, as it has been decided by the EU.
Russia’s agression in Ukraine has highlighted the need for European strategic autonomy, and for the strengthening of NATO’s European security policy, which requires that EU member states spend more on their defense, stressed Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis underlined the need to gradually move away from dependence on Russian natural gas.