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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Interview of the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Alkiviadis Stefanis, to the broadcast "Kalimera Ellada" of Antenna TV

Interview of the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Alkiviadis Stefanis, to the broadcast "Kalimera Ellada" of Antenna TV
Interview of the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Alkiviadis Stefanis, to the broadcast "Kalimera Ellada" of Antenna TV

G. PAPADAKIS: Good morning, Minister.

A. STEFANIS: Good morning Mr. Papadakis, good morning to your fellow-workers, good morning to your viewers; not only from me, but also from the Commander of the local Military force, the commander of the Port Police Corps, the commander of the Police Force, as well as all the people who live here and spend their everyday lives on this island, which constitutes an entry point into Greece.

G. PAPADAKIS: Precisely, precisely. You stayed overnight Minister, you spent last night there.

A. STEFANIS: Well said, Mr. Papadakis.

G. PAPADAKIS: The Turks were deceived because, at some point, as we have been informed, the helicopter left Kastelorizo for Rhodes and they thought the Minister was in it and tried to harass it; yet the Minister was at Kastelorizo. It’s OK, once again they have had it. How do you proceed, Minister?

A. STEFANIS: Mr. Papadakis, following the actions regarding the land borders and the excellent outcome achieved, I want to make a pause, just to say that the hard work continues and it will continue, because Turkey will keep on pressing us. Our next concern is the islands. We understand that after the failed attempts of the immigrants to cross the land borders, they will next try to enter through the islands. So, at this moment, through a lot of new operational measures, we reinforce our defence, our deterrent power, our borders’ safety.

G. PAPADAKIS: I guess, Minister, this means we are prepared. Because, as you claim, in the next few days, and as soon as the weather conditions improve, according to information we had by Mr.Tassos Telloglou yesterday in ANT1 news, the Turks are expected to send boats with immigrants from their coast, which is a Turkish-led action. At the moment, Turkey is the official immigrants’ trafficker. What is your opinion on that, Minister?

A. STEFANIS: I totally agree with you, but let us consider that the same hordes, as you described them, were present at the land borders as well, and yet our actions there were strictly prohibitive, harsh and decisive. The same applies here; we know what is going on, we do not rely on the weather conditions. Yesterday night we had a moderate to fresh breeze and yet our forces were operating out there. They were operating despite the fact that there were zero flows; we are present anyway. We examine our potential, our reactions, and based on these, we try to organize the entire operational environment.

G. PAPADAKIS: You claim there were zero flows yesterday night. Was that in that region or in the wider region? You refer only to Kastelorizo or to the North Aegean islands as well?

A. STEFANIS: Regarding the land borders, a lot of attempts were made to cross the borders, but they were all successfully prevented; regarding the sea borders, there were none.

G. PAPADAKIS: Minister, let us wish for the best. You have our support. You are on a splendid island, where its people really defend the Thermopylae; the people of Kastelorizo are amazing people. I had the opportunity to meet them, we really thank you for this communication.

A. STEFANIS: Mr. Papadakis, before closing, I would like to say something, if you can allow me some time. We will not simply wish for the best, we will try to make it happen. We convey a clear message to everyone. The borders are guarded. These people are illegal immigrants and we handle them as such. You are witnessing the imposed strict penalties and the whole procedure. You see that we have ceased the asylum procedures and the message towards them is clear: do not come to our country.

G. PAPADAKIS: This is what we expected to hear from you. We discussed wish and hope, you said it is not an issue of wish and hope, it is an issue of decision making and that counts mostly. It is your word.

A. STEFANIS: Of course it should be that way and we must also realize that this situation had an amazing outcome; it revealed the superb reflexes of the Greek people. Concord, unity, patriotism, principles that we are witnessing every day. Thousands of messages from all Greece, of people who wish to offer us themselves: students, women who have nothing to do with the Army, old people. Yesterday I had a call from a 97 years old veteran who wanted to go to Kastanies. This is very important, cohesion, love and unity will bring the desired outcome, undoubtedly along with our extremely professional, calm and rational operational activity.

JOURNALIST: Minister, one question: in what way will you prevent the flows and if ultimately some manage to reach our islands, where will they go?

G. PAPADAKIS: No, what is it going to happen from then on? Because as George told us a while ago, they are preparing to come, a transport ship will be used.

A. STEFANIS: This concerns the management of those who illegally enter the country. At this moment, there is a governmental plan. Mr. Chrysohoidis and Mr. Mitsotakis have completed the plan and you will soon witness its development. Regarding operations, we have already changed our operational logic. We have an aggressive advanced operation and borders’ safety and allow me to say no more on this subject. The results are obvious. However, we must consider, and I refer to operational aspects, that the land is different than the sea. The land is much more limited, while the sea is much more extended and unpredictable. We are well aware of that, we live in it, we have been serving it for years. There is an excellent cooperation between the Port Police Corps and the Armed Forces; the results are visible.

G. PAPADAKIS: Minister, thank you, keep up with the good work, have a nice day. We wish you all the best.

A. STEFANIS: Thank you, too, good morning to everyone, be safe.