Do Mitsotakis and Dendias diverge over the European Council conclusions?

Nikos Dendias Mitsotakis

Speaking during the discussion of the state budget, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pointed out that "Turkey of the 21st century is changing radically", emphasizing the revival of nationalism and the "strong revisionism and Islamism".

He even spoke of "deviating from Western values, such as democracy and human rights."

Without fully accepting the Prime Minister's position that the EU "took a step" at the European Council, Dendias stressed that European leaders rejected "Turkey's tactics with the ostensible withdrawal of Oruç Reis".

This, however, was self-evident after the challenges that preceded the withdrawal, but came after the European warnings in October.

Although he added that "the government has never claimed that the above is enough" and that negotiations are underway with the European Council, Dendias stressed that the recent decision was not a surprise or "something we did not expect".

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Greece confirms EU will ‘react’ to Turkey with sanctions
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

Dendias then noted, of course, that "there should be more determination in making decisions for Turkey" and that Athens will continue the effort "steadily with patience and perseverance".

Dendias with another reasoning

Dendias even argued that "taking action is a message of encouragement to the pro-European and modernizing part of Turkish society", contrary to the widely held government position that sanctions are not an end in themselves.

Explaining, he added:

"If the current changing Turkish policy is considered successful, then those inside Turkey who believe in the human values ​​of peace and security, those inside Turkey who believe in human rights and convergence with Europe, will be betrayed by Europe".

Dendias also stressed that the EU is obliged to realize its geopolitical role, but also its responsibility for regional stability and the security of all its citizens against external threats.

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Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

He even contradicted the European stance on the passage of the law by the US Senate to impose sanctions on Ankara, stressing that "the United States seems to have a clearer understanding of the situation and is using its geopolitical weight vis-a-vis Turkey."

Finally, referring to the prospect of a dialogue, he reiterated that the Turkish side is the one that "has to prove in practice that it endorses the dialogue in the framework of international law" and that its effort is "continuous and not momentary".

Regarding the attitude of Greece, he pointed out that "it is not dictated by the punitive mood, but by the constitutional commitment to defend sovereignty and sovereign rights" of Greece.

Panagiotopoulos and the French

The results of the European Council were also in the focus of other speakers, with the Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos stating that there is no issue regarding Greek-French relations.

An issue raised by representatives of the opposition, focusing on the issue of the frigate market and the not so warm support of the Greek demands from French President Emmanuel Macron at the recent Summit.

Panagiotopoulos responded by announcing that in a few days the Greek-French defense agreement on Rafale warplanes will be put to a vote in Parliament, while on the issue of frigates he said that it is open and talks are being held with France and other countries.

"We did not turn our backs on France," he said, adding that "the navy is looking for the best solution."

We are open for both the French and others, he added, without mentioning who the "others" are, while responding to the objections regarding Macron's attitude, he noted that "France did not turn its back on us".

Regarding the decision of the European Council itself, Panagiotopoulos argued that in the government "we neither triumph nor lower our heads and weep", characterizing the "exaggerations" heard.

Europe, as he said, "is moving slowly", to then emphasize that, after the efforts of Greek diplomacy, Turkey is today in a worse position than it was a few days ago.

The downside, however, is that Europe is moving slowly on Turkey, but is taking a step further when it comes to Russia and Belarus.

Defense spending

However, regarding the defense expenditures of the budget, which is increased by 2 billion euros due to the critical situation, Panagiotopoulos has support of KINAL.

MP Vassilis Kegeroglou clarified that his party will support the military budget increase.

The Hellenic Solution will do the same, as stated by its parliamentary representative, Konstantinos Hytas, despite appearing critical of the government's foreign policy.

On the contrary, the parliamentary representative of the Communist Party of Greece, Thanasis Pafilis, was negative about the increase in armaments expenditures.

Earlier, former Foreign Minister George Katrougalos sharply criticized the government and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis personally, focusing mainly on national issues and the results of the Summit.

The official opposition spokesman reiterated Alexis Tsipras' demand for a meeting of the Council of Political Leaders, stressing the need for "a national strategy at last".

Regarding the decision of the European Council, he stated that "Mr. Mitsotakis recorded a catastrophic failure", for which, as he said, "he bears most of the responsibility".

Finally, assessing the government's position on a step taken by the EU, he commented that "this is not a small step forward as the government claims, but many steps back".

Vaggelis Sarakinos is a regular contributor to SLPress.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor