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Greek PM Mitsotakis hails shared interest in democracy in speech before Congress

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Greek PM Mitsotakis hails shared interest in democracy in speech before Congress
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks to a joint session of Congress in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reaffirmed Greece's relationship with the United States on Tuesday during remarks before a joint session of Congress.

The appearance at the U.S. Capitol came one day after Mitsotakis met one-on-one with President Joe Biden at the White House. The Greek leader said the two countries are bound by the shared value of democracy.

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"I come before you to celebrate a miracle that all free people cherish but that binds Greeks and Americans in a unique way. That miracle, the Greek idea that would forever change the world, is that society functions best if all citizens are equal and have the right to share in running their state. In a word, democracy," Mitsotakis said.

"Our democracies have struggled with internal demons. We both are countries that endured the horrific pain of civil wars, the desperation of economic crises, but we have emerged stronger and more committed to defend the values our ancestors gave their lives for."

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Mitsotakis said that democracy is under threat in the face of Russian authoritarianism in Ukraine. Greece, a member of NATO which Ukraine seeks to join, has come out vocally in support of Kyiv in the wake of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

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He added that though he disagrees with the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he has "no animus" toward the Russian people.

"We took sides. Unequivocally," he said. "We stand by Ukraine against Putin's aggression.

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"He will not succeed. He must not succeed. Not only for the sake of Ukraine, but also in order to send a message to all authoritarian leaders that historical revisionism and open acts of aggression that violate international law will not be tolerated."

Mitsotakis' visit to the United States was timed to mark the 200th anniversary of Greek independence, though his travels were delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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