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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Interview of the Alternate Minister of National Defence, Panagiotis Rigas, on REAL FM radio Station and to the journalist, Nikos Chatzinikolaou

The Alternate Minister of National Defence, Panagiotis Rigas, in an interview he gave on Wednesday, 13 February 2019, on REAL FM radio station and to the journalist, Nikos Chatzinikolaou, stated amongst others the following:

In reply to a question whether the parliamentary elections will be held in May:

Elections are to be held upon the completion of this government’s four-year term. The Prime Minister has stated that on several occasions. There is no reason at all why elections should be held earlier. We want to complete the effort that we have undertaken with three flagship objectives. The first one consisted in the final exit from the memoranda and fiscal surveillance and our country’s return to normality, which was achieved. The second one consisted in the settlement of national issues that had been stalled, which was achieved through the Prespa Agreement. And the third one consisted in the constitutional reform and at the same time, the adoption of a series of bills, which contain support for the welfare state and support for labour rights. In other words, what is necessary so that the society would get back everything that was taken from it as a result of its poverty in previous years.

Regarding the Constitutional reform and whether there may be consensus:

When we talk about consensus and dialogue, we should define the scope of these concepts. If New Democracy understands consensus to mean transaction, we obviously cannot reach an agreement. What is important is that changes are required. New Democracy and the opposition in general hide themselves behind this and try to demean the political system’s leading institutional process in several ways. There was even speculation – and it is surprising how a part of the opposition accepts that – about the alleged withdrawal of the majority from the procedure. There is no case that such thing happens and this does not reflect well on New Democracy.

We are representing two different worlds. The one side is the one that has led the country where it got, that was based on entanglement, attacked the social rights and the welfare state and leans towards a far-right belief, rhetoric and practices. On the other side, there is the progressive world. There is a series of articles in the Constitution to be reviewed during the reform procedure, where the content of the amendments that we recommend is focused on the support of the society and the strengthening of democracy. Everyone has to take a stand at this point.

Regarding the meeting between the Ministers of Defence of Greece and Turkey:

Every so often, Turkey demonstrates an increased aggressive rhetoric. Our wish is that these meetings always involve the substance of the matter. When there is tension, when there are difficulties, we are trying to seek a common code, so that there would be de-escalation for the benefit of both people. In order to manage to reduce tensions, to establish a channel of communication in such a difficult area. Throughout this entire crisis that we have been through, we remain a pillar of stability for safety for the entire Europe as well.