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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Interview of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panos Rigas  with the "TA NEA" Newspaper

Interview of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panos Rigas  with the "TA NEA" Newspaper
Interview of the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panos Rigas  with the "TA NEA" Newspaper

The Alternate Minister of National Defence, Panos Rigas, in an interview with the "TA NEA" newspaper (09/04/2019) to the journalist Manos Haralambakis, made the following statements:

Q: Let's start with the latest developments: did the judicial inquiry on the Novartis case justify the "political fuss" created?

A: A certain institutional procedure has been initiated in order to apportion liability to all persons involved. This is not about creating "political fuss", but rather about apportioning political and criminal liability.

Q: Turkish challenges with violations and overflights in the Aegean by Turkish fighters continue. Does the revival of Confidence Building Measures make any sense?

 A: Turkey has consistently demonstrated aggressive behaviour. This, of course, does not mean that the results of this behaviour are acceptable, in terms of creating accomplished facts. We have the means and the will to deter and/or deal with any action challenging our national sovereignty. However, our strategic choice is peaceful coexistence and cooperation with Turkey, not only because it is a necessity, but also because it is the only option benefiting both countries. Confidence Building Measures remain a very useful tool, a kind of road map to consolidate trust between our countries, a trust that already exists between our peoples. The fact that Turkey employs at times provocative rhetoric and practices is the very reason why these measures need to be implemented. Confidence Building Measures do not resolve problems, but prevent tension (if the political will exists) and pave the ground for their potential resolution in the future.

Q: After Alexis Tsipras and Evangelos Apostolakis, Akar also went to Skopje. Will Greece be the main defence partner of North Macedonia?

A: Our policy derives from the spirit and the letter of the Prespes Agreement. It is a policy of cooperation between equals and mutual respect and not a policy of "influence zones" of the empires of the past. It provides a solution to the problems of today, to the needs and concerns of our peoples. Military cooperation with our neighbour in the North is something provided by the Prespes Agreement and facilitated by the country's entry into NATO. How this cooperation will be expressed at operational level, e.g. with the surveillance of the airspace of North Macedonia by the Hellenic Air Force, is a secondary matter. This cooperation enhances security and stability in the region and beyond.

Q: The Ministry of National Defence's bill that includes beneficial regulations for the military service of children from families with three children or more has been introduced to Parliament for deliberation. Why now, just before the elections?

A: According to New Democracy, who has been asking for elections since the first months of this government, all laws we passed during these four years could be considered to be "pre-election" measures. The only thing New Democracy hasn't said yet is that the end of the MoU regime is also a… "pre-election" measure. Let's be serious. This bill is the result of a lot of work and a long preparation period that produced certain provisions and was brought for deliberation eight months before the end of the government's four-year term. If someone thinks that the government should stop working at the fourth year of its term and not pass laws, he should come forward and say so in public. This bill, which will be brought to Parliament in the next few days, regulates many issues concerning the career and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces.

Q: Regarding the event in Galatsi, you said that the progressive world gave an answer. To whom?

A: The event in Galatsi was not simply a political function. It is a political event that signals the activation of the progressive world. This world, this political space gives an answer to the forces that seek a return to the past. To all those who depreciate politics, who depreciate democracy, and transform them into a tool of the economic elites to impose their choices on the peoples by giving space to the far right and the neo-Nazi bands who have reared their heads in Greece and Europe. The progressive alliance will answer the main dilemma of whether politics will remain a matter of the people or pass to organised interests.

Q: New Democracy says that you move forward hand-in-hand with the "old" (old party officials) whom you used to accuse. Doesn't that bother you?

A: I would say that New Democracy shouldn't mention rope in the house of a man who has been hanged. But beyond that. the Progressive Alliance seeks mainly people who have had a progressive political presence and not parthenogenesis. The people participating in this effort are united by their common concerns for the future of this country.

Q: In almost all polls SYRIZA appears to be the second party. What makes you think that the citizens will make it first party again in the upcoming elections?

A: We do not base our policies on polls, which in recent years have consistently failed to capture the pulse of society. Furthermore, they are incomplete, since all of them show that one in five of the few that take part state that they haven't decided. The elections will bring a certain dilemma to the people: whether the effort for fair growth, for a Greece of the many, will continue or the country will return to the past, negating all our hard-earned achievements. So I am convinced that in the actual elections, where the will of the people will be expressed without the mediation of party and oligarchic interests, the people will give their answer.