Miltiadis Varvitsiotis

“We urge the EU to show that with its provocative actions, Turkey cannot invest in a privileged relationship with the [European] Union and that the violation of international law has repercussions,” said Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.

In an interview with Alexandra Fotaki for in.gr, Varvitsiotis proposes that a clear message be sent to Turkey and that it be made clear that Europe is finally changing its stance.

When asked about Turkey’s provocation, the Deputy Foreign Minister noted that Turkey continues to behave like a turmoil in the wider region, making it clear that “our job is not to allow anyone and in any way to challenge the sovereign rights of our country.” He also said that “our neighbours should be aware that policies of gunfire and threatening rhetoric can neither be tolerated nor serve a common effort for a better future in relations between the two countries.”

He further stressed that “the response to the challenges of the Turks is not the militarisation of the crisis” and said that the Greek government is ready, at any time, to use all its diplomatic weapons to counter any Turkish challenge. “We are not afraid, we will always respond with a ‘gun’ to our rights,” he said.

When asked about immigration and how it is one of the issues Turkey is using to blackmail the EU, Varvitsiotis stressed that Greece is firmly on its feet and will react in a timely and dynamic manner to the challenges, noting that “in any case, as an active member of the European family, if necessary, it will demand the practical support of its partners and their intervention.” This is because not only Greek but also European vital interests are at stake, he said, adding: “After all, if the Union has really learned anything from the coronavirus crisis, it must respond together to the next immigration crisis. Because this is also collective.”

Referring to the next day of the pandemic, the Deputy Foreign Minister sends the message that in shaping the new European agenda, Greece, which emerged victorious from the great health battle against the “invisible enemy”, is called to play a new, leading role. “And that, we want and we can do,” said Varvitsiotis.

Mapping the new debate on the future of Europe in the aftermath of the effects of the coronavirus, Varvitsiotis speaks of a crisis of solidarity and democracy, stressing that “we want Europe to emerge stronger through the teachings of the pandemic.”

In particular, he clarified that Greece’s intention is to lead the fight for the preservation and promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which are at the heart of European culture. “Taking over the six-month Greek Presidency of the Council of Europe on Friday, May 15, we have focused on the preservation and promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Europe during the pandemic,” he said.

Focusing on the priorities in the economic field, Varvitsiotis proposes to stimulate the extroversion of the economy, which he considers a basic condition “if we want to achieve our goal of explosive growth in 2021.” In particular, he stressed that Europe currently needs a strong Recovery Fund, which will give generous liquidity to European economies, not with a hard-line lending logic, but in the form of grants to prevent further public debt, especially in countries such as Greece.

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