HomeGreeceAlternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis’ interview with the newspaper "Apogevmatini...

Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis’ interview with the newspaper “Apogevmatini tis Kyriakis” and journalist Katerina Tsamouri (12.2.2023)

M. VARVITSIOTIS: EU leaders conveyed a strong message of solidarity to those affected by the deadly earthquakes. At the same time, they reaffirmed their will to further support Ukraine, which is still suffering the heavy consequences of the Russian invasion. On the migration-refugee issue, Greece has spoken up promptly on the need to develop a comprehensive migration policy that prioritizes solidarity among Member States, a coordinated system of border management, and returns to countries of origin. The European Council has taken a decisive step in this direction, placing the management of the EU’s external borders and the prevention of irregular migration at the center of European policy. Its recent decisions on the issue in question now better reflect Greek positions than in the past.
JOURNALIST: In conclusion, as we are already in the run-up to the elections, I’d appreciate your assessment (successes and mistakes) of the government’s work as well as your objectives in the event of re-election.
JOURNALIST: On Thursday you accompanied the Prime Minister to the EU Summit. What did Greece achieve on the migration-refugee issue?
JOURNALIST: How did you feel when you realized the magnitude of the tragedy? Do you believe the “earthquake diplomacy” will reduce tension in Greek-Turkish relations?M. VARVITSIOTIS: When the party of New Democracy and Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power, Turkey was participating in the F-35s program. Today, this has been reversed, as we have already asked to join this program, while Turkey is desperately trying to join the F-16s Program, at a time when the modernization project for our F-16s is underway.  In a few years, we have managed to shift the balance of power in the Aegean. Our government’s primary concern is to substantially shield the country’s defense and increase its deterrent capability.
JOURNALIST: Menendez gave the green light for the sale of 5th generation F-35 fighter jets to Greece. Other senators who are philhellenes are opposed to selling F-16s to Türkiye. How does the balance of powers change if they get the fighters and what happens if they don’t?
M. VARVITSIOTIS: No modern European state can tolerate this inhuman bargain, the victims of which are mainly helpless women and young children. Our Armed Forces and the Police in Evros, as well as the Coast Guard in the Aegean, are fighting on a daily basis a difficult battle against illegal migration and those networks of unscrupulous traffickers who exploit the agony of desperate people, putting human life at risk through their appalling practices. We have managed, in adverse conditions, to save many human lives and we will continue to do so. Our tolerance towards these phenomena is zero and always as guardians not only of the Greek but also of the European borders, we will continue our efforts to prevent them.
M. VARVITSIOTIS: The news of the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria shocked us all, as did the gripping images of thousands of dead, missing, and homeless people. This is an unbelievable tragedy. From the very beginning, the Greek people and our government have demonstrated humanity and solidarity. We were instantly mobilized, with the Prime Minister himself at the forefront. Greece and the heroes of the Disaster Management Special Unit demonstrated in practice that humanity knows no borders. We proceeded with the decision to provide humanitarian aid to the thousands, if not millions, of people who will be homeless.  Although the priority at this stage is healing the wounds, the human existence itself over politics, it is nevertheless a good opportunity for me to reiterate that Greece seeks good neighborly relations with Turkey. Unfortunately, even a catastrophic event is a good opportunity for Turkey’s leadership to reflect and realize that provocative rhetoric and threats can easily be shattered by a natural disaster.
JOURNALIST: Two shipwrecks with dead migrants off the islands of Leros and Lesvos in two days. Traffickers are sending innocent souls to death. How is Greece dealing with this and what will the EU do about it?
M. VARVITSIOTIS: From 2019 to date, our government has accomplished a lot. Of course, we do not claim to have addressed all the problems. We now want to take the next decisive steps, to tackle poverty, improve wages, create more decent jobs, and further strengthen the welfare state, with an emphasis on women and the economically deprived. And I know this very well through my everyday contact with the citizens of West Athens. In the national elections, we are asking for a strong mandate to continue forward even stronger, building a strong and self-reliant Greece.
“Greece and the heroes of the Greek Disaster Management Special Unit have demonstrated in practice that humanity knows no borders”, underscored Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis in an interview with the newspaper “Apovevmatini tis Kyriakis” and journalist Katerina Tsamouri. Referring to the migration-refugee issue, he remarked that with its recent decisions on strengthening the EU’s external borders, the European Council now better reflects Greece’s positions than in the past. Regarding the elections, the Alternate Minister noted that “we are asking for a strong mandate to continue forward even stronger, building a strong and self-reliant Greece”.
The full interview is as follows:


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