The Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, has accused opposition party SYRIZA of nationalism for wanting Greece to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles as is within its rights by international maritime law.
However, Chrysochoidis was not alone in this call, with New Democracy MP Dimitris Markopoulos claiming that Greeks do not believe SYRIZA want Greece’s national waters extended from 6 nautical miles to 12.
He also accused SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras of instrumentalizing populism.
“Nationalism is the populist instrumentalization of issues relating to our homeland. This is what Alexis Tsipras did,” said Markopoulos, who addressed the seats of the official opposition, saying:
“Do you now seriously believe that the Greek people are of the opinion that SYRIZA is in favor of the 12-mile extension, Mr. Ragoussi [SYRIZA MP]? Do you take it seriously? Did you hear what Mr. Walden and Mr. Filis said? Mr Wallden, whom you described as an enlargement trophy to the center-left, said it was ‘irresponsible demagogy’. That’s what he said, these are your comrades.”
The New Democracy MP did not limit himself to that.
“Nationalism,” he said, “is not the inalienable right of Greece to extend to 12 miles. Personally, this line was drawn by Kyriakos Mitsotakis and no one has the right to deviate from this line. We, the New Democracy, are all united in what Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, anything else is unnecessary.”
SYRIZA MP Nikos Pappas hit back though and spoke about the current government’s failure to extend Greece’s maritime rights to 12 nautical miles.
“Let us inform you that what is seen from Rhodes is not Yves Cousteau’s ‘Calypso’ making a documentary. It is the, Oruç Reis accompanied by Turkish boats. We thought that the statement of Mr. Gerapetritis who said that the red line is 6 miles, was extreme. But oh the miracle – and we have not heard him correct it – Mr. Chrysochoidis said that more than 6 miles is nationalism”, said Nikos Pappas and added:
“We hope that this statement will be corrected because you have to understand that the statements of government officials are being watched from the opposite side as well. Think about what precedent is formed. Everyone is waiting for a clarification, an apology, a change of attitude.”
Although Greece has a legal right to extend its maritime territory to 12 nautical miles, Turkey has said if Greece did such a thing that it would be a cause for war.
SYRIZA MP Dora Avgeri in a written statement to Chrysochoidis said:
“A member of the Greek government calls the nautical miles extension as nationalism,” said Avgeri. “If Mr. Chrysochoidis wanted to put the word nationalism in a photo and not in the 12 nautical miles, he would have the opportunity to find it through the New Democracy Parliamentary Group. He is an absent MP who spoke here today and made the most nationalist speech that a member of the Greek parliament could make, and I imagine that ND is not proud of that.”
WHAT CHRYSOCHIDIS SAID
The Minister of Citizen Protection, wanting to attack SYRIZA, accused the opposition of using and resorting to “dangerous weapons to survive.”
The Minister of Civil Protection proceeded – in fact during an unrelated to the Greek-Turkish debate – to an incomprehensible position on the sovereign and absolutely legal right of Greece, the possibility of a 12 nautical mile extension of Greece’s maritime space, as is perfectly legal according to international maritime law, to be akin with “nationalism.”
Giannis Ragousis, a SYRIZA MP, said that his party explicitly puts Mitsotakis before his responsibility and should either make Chrysochoidis apologize for this “misery” he uttered, or dismiss him.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikramenos refuses to allow New Democracy to apologize.
“I do not think, I can not imagine that anyone can question the right of the country to extend the coastal zone to 12 miles, whenever the country deems it useful. There is no doubt about it. I’m surprised by what you said. We have no reason to retract. Obviously you did not understand what was said,” Pikramenos said in response to the SYRIZA parliamentary representative.