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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Alternate Defence Minister Fotis Kouvelis' interview on FOCUS Radio

The Alternate Minister of National Defence Fotis Kouvelis in an interview he gave on Monday, 16 July, 2018, on FOCUS radio station of Thessaloniki, stated, among other things:

Regarding Erdogan’s statements about his meeting with the Greek Prime Minister:

Both sides, Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Tsipras as well set topics during the meeting. Specifically, our side raised the issue of our two officers’ release. It is clear that it was the only time, during this meeting that, although he mentioned the 8 Turkish officers, he did not connect the two issues.

Erdogan will continue an escalating tension in his country’s relations towards Greece; of course, a tension with fluctuation. He will continue towards this direction, probably with different forms. One of them, recently, was the aggressive rhetoric and, secondly, a tense activity, in the sense that it still does not release the two officers, it continues to connect this issue, directly or not, on a case-by-case basis, with the extradition of the 8 Turkish officers who were granted asylum in our country. It will continue with a fluctuating tension.

In any case, we continue our pressure at many levels. We include it in a general pressure that should be exerted on Erdogan regarding his actions. As I hope and what the Greek government seeks for is for them to come back soon, but we do not negotiate with Erdogan the exchange of these cases, the unacceptable detention of our two officers and the case of the 8 Turks. Erdogan, and Turkey, is a “revisionist” country, it will continue to express the opinion that there are disputed areas in the Aegean Sea and “grey zones”.    

Regarding the deportation of the two Russians:

Our country has not been following such a policy, it has not a tradition of deportations. The deportation of the two Russian diplomats was the result of their activities which were extremely offensive.

There is evidence about this which the government is aware of. The government has declared in the most clear manner that there were no pressures by anyone, by any other country, as the other side, the Russian Foreign Minister, maintains. Nobody, neither the Americans nor anyone else pressured our country to proceed with the deportation of the two Russian diplomats.

Greece, as an EU member state, has repeatedly underscored the need to find a cooperation field between Europe and Russia. Greece does not choose to have adversary or hostile relations with Russia. On the contrary, in the context of a multilevel foreign policy, it seeks for good relations with Russia.

I am stating this to show that the government would never deport two Russian diplomats if there were no evidence which fully justifies our action.

Regarding the relations with Russia:

Undoubtedly, there has been created a situation which is different from the one of the past months or years, but the previous one can be restored.

Particularly, regarding the agreement with FYROM, as you are asking me, there was no Russian pressure to the Greek government. What I would like to stress is that Russia in August 1992 was the country which, together with some other countries, recognized our neighbouring country as “Macedonia”.