On Tuesday, 18 December 2018, the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis Rigas, in an interview he gave to “News 247” radio station to the journalists Vasilis Skouris and Angeliki Spanou, stated the following:
Regarding the Turkish provocativeness:
It is a steady policy followed by Turkey, that sometimes it increases its aggression either through its actions or through its words and rhetoric. During this time period, there is an escalation in both words and actions. They choose such periods, either for domestic reasons or in relation to the energy issues in the wider area.
What matters is that we, the Ministry of National Defence, face the situation with caution and determination, regarding our sovereignty rights' protection. We have communicated the message many times; Turkey should be much more cautious, if it wishes to be a part of the wide European community. It is obvious that wishes and actions are related and must adhere to the International Law. Turkey must observe many basic rules of the big European family, in order to either participate or communicate and develop a mutual relationship with the countries of the European family.
Such actions do not help to consolidate a peace and friendship system in the region, which is something we really need and it will benefit societies themselves. We are really convinced and faithful to this doctrine and I think we did well. In a very difficult period in terms of finances, in a period with a lot of concerns with regard to the wider region, geo-strategically and geo-politically speaking, and especially with regard to sources of tension, our country did well, keeping its position.
Regarding the existence of Nazi elements inside the Armed Forces:
An order has already been given for full investigation, but mainly for achieving a specific outcome. I refer to Lesvos, where on the wall of a camp, a motto of Wehrmacht's Field-Marshal Manstein was written. All elements will be fully isolated and all measures will be taken for everyone involved in this incident.
This incident does not reflect honor upon the Armed Forces, it is not a part of their ideals and most of all, it does not reflect honor upon Lesvos and our Democracy. All setbacks will be completely eliminated. You will witness the measures taken. By no means, can this incident be justified; the most important thing is that the incident insults us all, those involved in politics and the Greek people as well.
In any case, there is a deep democratic feeling within the Hellenic Armed Forces. Such phenomena will be completely isolated. A lot of events have already taken place in the Hellenic Armed Forces, like the participation in remembrance and sacrifice races, movies' projection that honor historical facts, etc.
Oblivion does not impose itself on memory. All actions have been taken, even in military schools, to consolidate the feeling of democracy and most of all, the feeling of the Armed Forces' mission, the feeling of protecting the country; all these have nothing to do with such extreme trouble-makers.
Does the Macedonia name issue justify extreme behaviors?
This is a bigger issue and it does not concern the Army, but the whole society and education. All those who chose to pander and comply with the views of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), serve our country in a wrong way. Nationalism is an extreme phenomenon which, from time to time, has affected and caused tremendous problems to our country.
Patriotism means I care for my country, I do not oppose to any other country and, most of all, I care about the social coherence and the financial growth of the country. This is what patriotism means and this is what history teaches us. I do not wish to go into further details. All this rhetoric from New Democracy, Mr. Mitsotakis and Mr. Samaras remind us of other times, times of civil war. It is a pity, because under the leadership of Konstantinos Karamanlis, the Party had a different stand.
Regarding the trade union movement in the Armed Forces:
When Mr. Dimitris Vitsas was the Alternate Minister of National Defence, a Bill was submitted, fully legalizing the trade union movement in the Armed Forces. It must be implemented. It is every citizen's right, in accordance with the Constitution, to join a union and lay a claim. There are some particularities that also keep up with the perception of the people, who tried for years to include the trade union movement in the Armed Forces.
As far as enlisted men are concerned, they have every Constitutional right provided for the citizens. There is the Regulation, but beyond that, they have the right to contact me personally, if problems exist or rise. I have intervened in such matters recently.
Regarding the term of service, it lasts 9 months in the Army and 12 months in the Navy and the Air Force. There are needs to be covered and this term of service helps the Armed Forces to be present and operate, because we live in a region where our country's protection is directly connected with the social coherence and its development.