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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Interview of the Alternate Minister of National Defence at the 247news Radio Station

The Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis Rigas, in an interview he gave at the 247NEWS radio station, on Thursday 21 March 2019 and to the journalists Vasilis Skouris and Angeliki Spanou, stated, among other things, the following:

Regarding the new bill of the Ministry of National Defence:

The reduction of military service concerns the families with three or more children. The male children of these families will benefit from this. The male children of a family with many members will serve six months and those from a three-member family will serve eight months in the Army and nine months in the Navy and the Air Force.

The draft-evaders who will present themselves to serve until the end of 2020 will be excluded from penalties and fines. There will also be a reduction in the alternative service, from fifteen to twelve months. Besides, the new law will facilitate the access of uninsured beneficiaries to military hospitals under certain conditions.

In reference to the possibility of increasing the conscripts’ salary:

I have made a pertinent request. We are in contact and provided that the financial potential exists until the finances’ personnel completes its programming, I believe an increase, beyond the eight Euros in force today, is and should be possible. My proposal is to raise a soldier’s salary to 30 Euros and proportionately this will apply to every conscript with family members. It is just a token of appreciation and yet it sends a message to these children.

With regard to the increase of the number of regular members:

This will be conducted in the context of 1 to 1 ratio. There is a need for regular personnel in the Armed Forces, since no hiring has taken place for many years. We managed to save money, through rationalisation of expenses and at the same time, through the doctrine’s change, the Hellenic Armed Forces became effective, sufficient and extremely deterrent. The Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff of that time and current Minister Mr Apostolakis contributed to this. Already, with the presentation of the bill to the Parliament, the service of the Short-Term Reenlistment Soldiers will be expanded to three more years.

Pertaining to the grant of camps:

With the reorganisation, camps’ spaces have been made available. For a camp to be made available though, the local community should present a plan. There are already such cases, where the local communities have prepared a plan in contact with the Armed Forces, so that the latter benefit from this procedure, pursuant to the law. The contacts with the mayors of Larissa and Kozani have been completed, so that the camps are made available to these cities, since they have prepared a smooth and consolidated plan. It concerns an announcement already made by the Prime Minister in the Regional Conferences and we have to conclude it through the required signatures in the near future.

On the subject of new armaments:

The country possesses a deterrent force and I say this being fully aware of the circumstances. The Armed Forces have made great efforts and they still do, to increase the assets’ readiness and effectiveness. From then on, any armament programme must be approved by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and National Defence and the Parliament.

Concerning the Confidence Building Measures with Turkey and provided that we proceed with these, will there be a reduction in military expenses?

This is a very serious matter. Confidence Building Measures are already in place but they have to be valid. What we seek is not to increase tensions.

Regarding political developments:

I believe we will win in the European Parliament Elections. The people will decide on whether we move forward or we return to the financial mafia which manipulated the civilian personnel. A system of corruption was present all these years.

It is obvious who are the people involved with briefs and accusations and support Mr Mitsotakis. Politics cannot be the puppet of financial interests. Let us prevent a Berlouskoni-like phenomenon in Greece.

On the subject of extreme reactions:

I come into contact with people and I have never felt a sense of disapproval. The reactions in Macedonia come from a few people. These approaches are fully supported by the New Democracy party and this is a dangerous practice. It is not about claiming social requests, it involves nationalism, irredentism and extreme situations. They refuse to see everything that occurred in previous years.

The government undertook the responsibility regarding the Prespes Agreement, because it ensures the national interests. The previous governments thought the matter would “burn” them and that is why we are experiencing this situation. The matter relates to the Balkans’ safety. An answer should be given on behalf of the whole democratic system, we cannot comply with an effort of adopting Orbán’s practices in our country. Some people in our country embrace these practices. The rage of the Movement for Change against SYRIZA is intense and it seems that it complies with the opposite side, since it wishes that the New Democracy party wins. In Europe, there is cooperation among the greens, the centre-left and the communist parties. People do not comprehend this kind of cooperation here in Greece.