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Statement by Alternate Minister of Foreign Affair Sia Anagnostopoulou following the proceedings of the EU General Affairs Council (Brussels, 19 March 2019)

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Statement by Alternate Minister of Foreign Affair Sia Anagnostopoulou following the proceedings of the EU General Affairs Council (Brussels, 19 March 2019)Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Sia Anagnostopoulou participated in the General Affairs Council which was held today in Brussels, ahead of the meeting of the European Council of Thursday and Friday, 21-22 March.

Upon the conclusion of the proceedings of the GAC, the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs made the following statement:

"The General Affairs Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held today. Its final session was dedicated to Brexit. European Chief Negotiator, Mr. Michel Barnier, briefed us on the latest developments, as well as the scenarios with regard to what is going to happen going forward. Extensive discussion took place among the Ministers of the 27 member-states. A final decision was not made, but what was noted by everybody, that is Mr. Barnier, as well as the ministers of the member-states was, first of all, that the EU must exhibit unity, concord, and stability; second, that there will be no renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement. Scenarios that were examined included a disorderly withdrawal. If the British Prime Minister is unable to get the Withdrawal Agreement passed by the House of Commons, then there will be a disorderly withdrawal on 29 March. However, none of the member-states agree to a disorderly withdrawal, because this will lead to great economic, political, and fiscal problems for the EU, as well as for the UK of course. Almost all member-states agree on this point. As you can understand, Greece agrees, because it is a small country, and it will be affected by such a disorderly withdrawal.

Of course, I must mention here that Greece has prepared itself accordingly, precisely because it considers this risk, which can continue to exist up to the last moment, though it is not so evident, but just a scenario. Just today in Parliament, a provision was introduced, an amendment, whereby the rights of citizens are protected: of Greek citizens who reside in the UK and of British subjects who reside in Greece, as well as the interests of our enterprises that are active in the UK. What I mean is that Greece is prepared. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created a website containing all the instructions required by citizens as well as enterprises. It would be beneficial for interested parties to consult it, because it is updated continuously, according to the developments.

The second scenario that was discussed was a short-term extension, in other words until the end of June, for technical reasons: that is in the event that Prime Minister Theresa May manages to get the Withdrawal Agreement passed by the House of Commons, and requests a short extension for technical reasons. This scenario does not seem too plausible. And the third thing, which is also the most probable, is a long-term extension on substantive grounds. But in this case, all 27 member states agreed that in order for a long-term extension to be granted, Prime Minister Theresa May must provide substantial grounds and the reasons for which she is requesting this extension, as well as what is going to happen during the extension period. The decision that will be made will of course be a political one and will be discussed at the European Council of the heads of the member-states the day after tomorrow, on Thursday and Friday."

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