Armed Forces Activities

20/01/2018 12:53:17

Alternate Minister Dimitris Vitsas’ Interview on SKAI TV and journalist Giorgos Aftias

    The Alternate Minister of National Defence Dimitris Vitsas during an interview on Saturday 20 January 2018 on SKAI TV and journalist Giorgos Aftias stated amongst others the following:

    On the negotiation with FYROM:

    The problem is the following: there is an issue that needs to be settled. The solution to the “Macedonia naming dispute” is for the benefit of our country. It is also important for the manner in which the country affects the Balkans, but also for the issue of peace in the Balkans.

    On this issue, while we need to discuss, to create consents, to form a consensus and to contribute to its settlement, if possible, because our intention is not enough – since international willingness is required, instead of discussing, we are playing a little game for internal consumption.

    Our position on this issue is the following: compound name for all purposes and a package that would exclude irredentism in the Balkans.

    On the position of the Church, the meeting between the Archbishop and the Prime Minister and New Democracy’s stance:

    The Church is an institution; it has spiritual and other duties. On these issues (foreign policy), the State is to decide by means of its procedures and its negotiations.
    The Archbishop expressed the Church’s position and also expressed another thing that honors both the Archbishop and the Church. That this is about an official State matter. The Church has its own issues and its problems that need to be solved and it believes that this should take place with caution,  calmly and realistically, without any tensions that could only lead to national trauma.

    The Archbishop has expressed the stances of the Church and the Holy Synod. I do not agree with these stances. There are issues that the Church needs to settle, but calmly, realistically and with respect towards to what the Church and what the State do.

    I believe that to reform the agenda in order to win some more votes, does neither help the country’s political life nor the effort currently being made.

    On the progress in the negotiation with FYROM:

    We are engaged in negotiations and the good thing is that both sides state that there is a ground for negotiation. The government’s stance is crystal clear: a compound name towards everybody and in all fora and domestically, within a package excluding irredentism.

    Apart from that, a carpetbagger game is played by the main opposition with an unstable stance, such as “go” or “do not go” to the protests. If anyone wants to go to a protest, he/she has the right to do so; but I also have the right to judge, to say that this does not help at all; it is just an expression of nationalism.

    We are in such a situation and when all this reaches a certain level, we have already said that the maximum possible consensus will be pursued. But, if we are getting into a debate domestically, each time that the entire procedure has not forwarded slightly – in other words, we have not reached a point at which we could sit and discuss very seriously – then, we are not talking about negotiations.

    On the Macedonia naming issue, the largest possible part of the Greek people should consent and this should also be the government’s stance that will also be expressed during negotiations. The solution is found in three levels: compound name, towards everybody and without irredentism procedures in the Balkans. That is also the national stance.

    For instance, saying that “I have a language” - that I believe it is a dialect and not a defined language – and based on that, they begin to form a so-called nation that supposedly exists here and there. These issues need to be settled and borders should be consolidated and respected. Let’s have in mind that Skopje was a state – member of a federation and is under pressure by other states.

    On the opposition’s stance:

    We have the responsibility to hear the opinions, the needs and the anxieties of the people and to take also into consideration the questions raised by the opposition; but we are not here to solve the opposition’s psychological problems.

    We are the government that will take the country out of the memorandum period at the minimum possible cost and with major benefits for the country. The country was supposed to exit the memorandum period in 2014 with 27.5% unemployment and the situation prevalent in those days. We are currently exiting the memorandum period, with an effort that has decreased unemployment by 7%, leading us to a growth, since it is the first time that 1.7% growth is being recorded.

    We come at a time when new prospects and new responsibilities exist. Some measures are harsh and others are providing relief.

    On the recent incident at Imia:

    The incident was treated thanks to the confidence and training, starting from the military leadership to the ship’s master and all the way down the line. Everybody knows very well what to do and they are well trained and remain composed while executing their mission.

    Turkey play politics for its own domestic and international reasons. For us, things are clear: there are no “grey zones” in the Aegean sea. End of story. Our sovereign rights are not threatened by rhetorical references. We do our job with confidence, knowledge and determination. We prefer dialogue; we prefer peace; but not dialogue on issues that have already been settled and are not a subject of debate for us.

    On the cooperation with the Minister of Defence, Panos Kamenos, and the issue of FYROM:

    We cooperate with the Ministry of National Defence and Panos Kamenos one thousand per cent on the Ministry’s issues. Of course, we are open to discussions on anything, but we are not negotiating our positions. We follow the government’s line.

    The government makes its decisions in specific ways and the government’s line is expressed by the Prime Minister and the competent Ministers. On this issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is the competent minister. Of course, all ministers may express their opinion.

    I do not underestimate the role of Panos Kamenos at the government; on the contrary, I overrate it but at the same time I say that he belongs to another party. That other party expresses its positions that will be taken into consideration, but the decision will be made by the government and I repeat that this decision shall follow the national line: compound name, towards everybody, without irredentism.

    On the reorganization of the Armed Forces and the closure of camps:

    At the moment, we make a huge effort to reorganize the Armed Forces. Such an effort also includes the way in which young men are enlisted in the Armed Forces. After one year of discussion, a final decision is to be made in the days to come. Some people pretend that they have just come to know.

    Out purpose is to make full use in the best possible way our human resources and our weapon systems. To strengthen the presence of the Armed Forces in the islands, Evros and the border regions and to achieve the maximum possible performance.

    Since there will be some nervousness from the local societies, we have made it clear that by doing something, we also achieve an “equivalent” for the local society. For instance, in Kalamata, our plan involves the Air Base becoming an international fighter training center. Kalamata, Volos and other cities shall be favored.

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