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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Interview by the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis  Rigas with the "EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON" newspaper and to the journalist Dimitris Terzis

The Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis Rigas, in an interview he gave to the newspaper “EFIMERIDA SYNTAKTON” (10/11/2018) and to the journalist Dimitris Terzis, stated the following:

- The opposition accuses you of rendering services before the elections, on the occasion of returning to the military personnel the amounts owed to them, along with the amounts owed to University professors and doctors. How do you comment on this argument?

The opposition, and more particularly the official opposition -even though the other parties are not excluded- should, at some point, define its position and openly present its proposals to the Greek people. It is a fact that the New Democracy Party lies in a strategic dead-end, since this is evident in its weakness to articulate an alternative proposal, which ensues from the burden it carries from the past, combined with its neo-liberal fixations. We are proceeding with specific interventions, in the context of our capabilities and in accordance with the society’s needs. In the context of their everyday life, the citizens must start realising that the period of the memoranda is ending and that part of their sacrifices, and injustices they suffered in the past, will be recovered. If the New Democracy Party and Mr Mitsotakis consider the four-year period as a pre-election period, this is their problem, since their constant catchphrase is to call elections. From now on and until the end of the constitutional tenure of this government, they will find themselves in the awkward position of yelling about SYRIZA’s new memorandum and, at the same time, of voting for measures for the relief of the Greek people, which we will present to the Parliament for voting.

A very important issue regarding the Armed Forces, which involves a lot of difficulties, is the union movement of their regular members. How do you comment on this?

The union movement in the Armed Forces is an established need and, at the same time, an innovative endeavour which, due to the particularities of the field, will have a hard time finding its pace. I would like to believe that the difficulties and controversies that may have ensued mostly represent what we refer to as “delivery pains”, the “birth” of something new, rather than a caricature of the union movement. The Armed Forces and their members do not need persons “involved” and in charge of every field, or union members who belong to a party; they do not try to function through practices which were inherited by clientelism. The SYRIZA government is the one which established the union movement in the Armed Forces, thus contributing to going deeper into democracy and to reinforcing the military’s constitutional rights.

Regarding politics; the government conducts a social policy counter-attack, through the measures announced by the Prime Minister in Thessaloniki. Do you believe there is enough time until the elections, so that this effort can be fruitful?

I would rather call it a reversion, than a counter-attack. The time of the memoranda has ended. The society needs to attempt achieving growth, rather than sticking to the recession caused by the adjustment programs. The Prime Minister’s announcements from the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, and other events that will follow, constitute the least possible scenario, in the context of this new effort. SYRIZA’s policy is not defined by taking measures that will ensure votes. This government has proven that it marks and implements policies regardless the political impact, having as a rule to solve the problems that the Greek society has endured for years. In the elections that will be conducted after the four-year period, the people will see, judge, compare and, above all, they will be inspired.

 

In the past, you have been SYRIZA’s secretary. How do you reply to those stating that in the last 3.5 years the party alienated itself from the government and the government alienated itself from the party?

 

The party and the government are two completely distinct entities, with different missions that work for the same cause. At the present juncture, our common strategic goal is to liberate the society from the vicious circle of the financial crisis and to reinforce basic ideas, in the context of which left-wing and progressive attitudes, as well as content, affect politics. Under no circumstance is there an “alienation”; everyone, in his capacity, tries to accomplish a mission unknown to a Left-Wing party, regarding exercising governmental authority and dealing with very difficult issues, under special circumstances. The last 3.5 years, through our political interventions and initiatives, we managed to keep alive SYRIZA’s relation with the social classes it represents, despite the hail of wrong information.

 

There are a lot of voices -even inside SYRIZA- that accuse the government of completely identifying with U.S. interests, regarding national issues. In other words, that the government has become “Americanised”. How do you comment on this?

 

Let us not examine things backwards. Let us begin with what we seek after, which is the basis of our policy. We seek after peace, stability, common growth and mutually beneficial relations with the other countries. We have demonstrated the role of our country as a stability pillar in the region, within a volatile and unstable international environment. The allegation about the government becoming “Americanised” is both oversimplified and inappropriate. The issue is not whether the American, Russian, or Chinese interests coincide with our choices and moves, but whether these choices and moves serve our national interests as well as peace and stability in the region. No one should accuse us of the latter.

 

Regarding the ‘401 Military General Hospital of Athens’; a week ago, the “Editors Newspaper” published the findings of the health inspectors’ conclusion, regarding cardio-surgical clinic of the said hospital. I would like a comment on this case and also on the fact that the conclusion’s findings, which were characterized as illegal, were simply archived after the respective search of the Military Justice.

 

The search of such a case is assessed as a procedure, at the end and as a whole -not fragmentally. All foreseen procedures are followed and the existing accusations are under search by the competent authorities of the Military Justice, after the disclosure of the conclusion of the Health Inspectors’ Corps. The leadership of the Ministry of National Defence contributed to the investigation of the accusations. This is an issue closely examined. We have already requested the standpoints of the General Staffs regarding the Control Report of the Health Inspectors’ Corps, as well as the immediate implementation of the proposals included in the Report.