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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Alternate Defence Minister Panagiotis Rigas' interview with REAL Newspaper to journalist Fivos Klavdianos

The Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis Rigas in an interview he gave with “REAL” newspaper (23/12/2018) and to the journalist Fivos Klavdianos, stated the following:

- This week, the Chief of the Hellenic National General Staff Evangelos Apostolakis made a harsh and cautionary statement with regard to Turkey. Are we afraid of an aggressive action of Turkey in the next time period?

The Chief of the HNDGS answered a journalist’s question and stated the self-evident. He gave an operational dimension in what we all agree to, that is that we will not allow, not even a bit, anyone to question our Greek territory. By defending our country’s sovereignty rights, we defend both the peace and the stability in the region. The deterrent power of the Hellenic Armed Forces constitutes a guarantee. With regard to an aggressive action on behalf of Turkey, I would like to point out that our role is not to be afraid, but to work for the prevention of this possibility. I believe the Turkish side as well will not cross the line; besides, adventurism never has presumed results.

- How do you reply in the accusations of the opposition parties, that the government fosters a false tension with Turkey?

Such issues cannot be included in the chessboard of the domestic political confrontation. I cannot believe that some Greek parties interpret Greece’s steady posture, which is also followed by the present government, of facing the Turkish provocativeness with composure, as a “foster of tension” towards Turkey. Some people should be more careful, because they give cause and alibi to the Turkish behaviour.

- The government and the Prime Minister himself adhere to the call of elections in October. Are you not afraid of the obstacle of the lax and punishing vote, which is traditionally observed in the European elections with regard to the government parties?

There has been an effort to put the blame on the Prime Minister’s intent to complete the governmental term in accordance with the people’s mandate. The elections are not our priority; the priority is our program’s implementation with regard to after-memoranda treaties. The stake before the ballot-box of the parliamentary elections has not yet been formed. Nevertheless, if an issue of a “punishing vote” rises, then this vote should turn against the political powers that drove the country to disaster and the society to despair, and not to the powers which reversed this course. The measures that the Prime Minister announced in Thessaloniki International Trade – and are already under implementation – are not a package. They mark the entrance to the after-memoranda period and constitute the first stage of a four-year planning. In other words, what are they going to suggest to the people? That they should turn back to Mr. Samaras’ term of 2014? That pensions should be cut? That they will restore wages to wage amounts below the current minimum – those who established it – and which we abolished and, at the same time, we raise the minimum wages? That they will take back the social dividends that we provide as a minimum gesture of social justice? That they will implement the rate 1 to 5 regarding hiring people to destroy public Health and Education? We stated loud and clear that the memoranda were not our program and that was the reason we closed the memoranda cycle. The government does not require extra time now, it will require and receive it by the people in October 2019 and it will involve another four years.

- Do you believe the majority of the Greek people approve the Prespes agreement?

As time passes by, more and more people will realize that the Prespes agreement serves the national interests. The last developments in the neighbouring country, where the competent authority approved the amendment in the context of the constitutional revision, which clearly differentiates citizenship from nationality, undoubtedly expose the New Democracy Party and Mr. Mitsotakis himself. After submitting the national interests to their petty interests of the party, under the pressure of the dead-end they reached, they thought that, by misleading the Greek people, through a well organized misinformation operation, they would harm SYRIZA. At the end, they harm the country and poison the society with toxic nationalistic ideas, which have nothing to do with patriotism.

- Mr. Kostas Bakogiannis is considered a strong contender of Athens municipality. Can Mr. Nasos Eliopoulos claim the first place from him?

You speak of “first place” and I do not know where this comes from. I do not think Mr. Bakogiannis has inherited this place, along with the nomination of –“right of succession” – from his mother, his uncle or his dear departed grand father. Besides, families of “noble origin” did not save the country, exactly the opposite. So, they have nothing to offer Athens as well. Nasos is a young man, born and bred in the city, who has already presented an excellent work, wherever he was invited to contribute. He is a strong candidate for Athens municipality and this is going to unfold in the next time period. I strongly believe that he has all the perspectives to win an electoral battle.

- We recently witnessed a fascist motto on a camp’s wall. Do you consider this a separate incident or there are organized far-right cells in the Army?

It is undoubtedly an unacceptable and inadmissible action that provokes. Nevertheless, there is no issue of far-right cells; there is a deep democratic feeling in the Hellenic Armed Forces and such phenomena will be completely isolated. This action does not reflect honour upon the Armed Forces. Those who have chosen, directly or indirectly, to propagandize fascist ideas, will be expelled from the Armed Forces. I would like to point out that there is a problem in the Greek society and in Europe, in general, regarding the revival of nationalistic-neo-Nazi ideas. In the field of the Armed Forces, due to specific discipline rules the personnel must adhere to, the risk of such “organized” phenomena is smaller. Still, we must all deal seriously with the problem. We must locate the gap and the fields that we have not paid attention to and thus, we allowed such ideas to flourish. What we look for is to armour the young people and society against fascism. The Ministry of National Defence performs specific initiatives in this direction. Our history, our national struggles, our virtues as people, contain are rich in examples for the new generations. Ignoring the above is a sign of the little knowledge that characterizes the supporters of flag-wavering. We will not allow it.