“Having travelled a lot, I wondered why Greeks look down on themselves. We really are a global exception. If we consider our incomparable past, it does not make sense to not be proud of ourselves.”
27-year-old Chios-born Member of the European Parliament, Emmanouil Fragkos, explains the above as the reason why he decided to enter politics on the European stage and become a member of the Hellenic Solution (Ελληνική Λύση) Party.
Although a qualified veterinarian, which allowed him to serve in the medical services of the Greek military during his compulsory conscription, he joined the Hellenic Solution “in order to face the reasons and the actors that spread misery in Greek society. Plus, I believe we have to urgently find solutions for our national issues.”
Greek City Times spoke with MEP Emmanouil Fragkos on a variety of issues, including Greek-Turkish relations, the European Council, as well as the situation in Armenia, Syria and elsewhere.
1) We had a very turbulent 2020 between the COVID-19 pandemic and Turkish hostilities, but it was also a year that saw huge changes in Greece. Greece improved its relations with many non-EU/NATO countries like Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and India. Is Greece heading in the right direction in terms of its foreign policy and what could be improved?
Greece must always invest in its relations with major third countries. Personally, I have taken specific initiatives for all the countries that you refer to.
Firstly, and sadly, I was the only Greek MEP that voted against an anti-Egyptian resolution.
Indeed the Egyptian regime is not flawless but if it collapses, the “gates of hell will open”: The Muslim Brotherhood will be re-established, Egypt will fall under Turkish influence, and the country – which is the only Arab country that currently does not send away but, instead, receives migrants – will be destabilised. A new “Arab Spring”.
No other Greek MEP thought of it this way.
I have co-signed a Written Question to the Commission, supportive of the Abraham Accords, wishing to bring the UAE, Bahrain and Israel closer to the EU.
I have tabled a few pro-Indian amendments and I am in constant communication with Indian diplomats. Recently, we started discussing an initiative in order to counter Islamic extremism in both the EU and India.
Guess which country supports this extremism!
You thought right. Turkey.
Also, I am proud of my attempts to create bridges with Russia. It is true that for certain EU countries Russia is seen as an enemy, but for long-term Greek interests, we have to reach out to Russia. I envisage the end of this New Cold War, starting from a decision that the EU did take against Russia but failed to take against Turkey.
2) 2020 was one of the most tense and difficult years in Greek-Turkish relations, but many in the European Union were not willing to acknowledge this reality or willing to impose sanctions against Turkey. What is the best way moving forward for the European Union to de-escalate Turkish hostilities against Greece and Cyprus?
I would identify this problem with the European Council. Different countries have a variety of interests with Turkey. Certainly, often there are publicly unspoken reasons that lead foreign affairs.
Certain cases that we can explain are, for instance, Germany’s exports to Turkey, Spanish and Italian fears over their economy, Malta’s banking sector and Azeri money.
Clearly, certain colleagues in the European Parliament expect some support from the Turkish lobby in return for their positive stance towards Turkey. I would propose that you search the stance of MEPs from Left parties in countries with big Turkish communities.
I keep on repeating that they should prioritise legality, solidarity and democratic values.
3) Turkey has been so emboldened due to the lack of repercussions that it partially reopened Varoshia in occupied northern Cyprus in violation of United Nations resolutions. At a European level, what can be done to not only reverse the partial reopening of Varoshia, but bring a final settlement to the Cyprus issue?
We need to try to implement the UN Security Council Resolutions. How can this be? Our major tool is trade. We must remember the illegitimate action of Turkey and push the EU to impose sanctions.
Turkey should be able to see a clear “stick and carrot policy.” Sanctions should be the new normal for Turkey. These sanctions should be in force, until it aligns with international legitimacy.
4) We saw on September 27 the start of the Turkish-sponsored invasion of Armenian-controlled Artsakh. How do you view this aggression?
Greeks and Armenians have a common experience that goes back about two millennia.
The dramatic experience during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, when practically all the Christians were “cleansed” out of the Ottoman Empire, has been a common dramatic experience for Greeks and Armenians.
Unfortunately, Greece did nothing to stop the most recent crimes.
The EU did nothing.
I personally supported, through letters and Parliamentary Questions to the Commission and the Council, a variety of actions so we could stop the Turkish aggression against Armenia, but…
5) Do you think pan-European diplomacy needs improving, and if so, how can this be achieved?
A policy of principles would mean prioritising legitimacy over trade. If Morocco would occupy Spanish land, we would not be able to keep normal relations with Morocco.
So we should be reminded that economics is the prerequisite of in-dependence.
A stronger Greece could have a stronger voice in the EU and globally in order to make things happen.
Pan-European action is real in certain policy areas like trade. If Europe uses it for our interests/legality, it can give ground to reliability, allowing for a strengthened cooperation.
6) On December 29, from your Twitter account, you made a video directed to German MEP Erik Marquardt, one of the biggest supporters of flooding Greece with illegal immigrants. Did you receive a response from MEP Marquardt?
Not yet, I would be surprised if I would receive a reply.
True progressives don’t reply. They simply fan the flames of their progressivism by rambling on and on about the same narrative.
We must be reminded that German industry needed low-cost labour. The whole of Europe had to pay the price of migration that we did not want.
We must never stop saying migration is something that:
A) European countries don’t want.
B) The countries of origin don’t want, and
C) Illegal migrants (should) realise it is against their interests.
One more point is that the humanists should realise how many people die and suffer through this process.
Our reply to the German MEP @ErikMarquardt that smears Greece, in the EP, on the issue of illegal migration, trying to enforce an open #border_policy on us.
Απάντηση στον Γερμανό ευρωβουλευτή Marquardt που συκοφαντεί καθημερινά την Ελλάδα θέλοντας να μας επιβάλλει ανοιχτά σύνορα. pic.twitter.com/CCvoXzae0Z
— EMMANOUIL FRAGKOS FRAGKOULIS MEP🇬🇷 (@e_fragkos) December 29, 2020
7) Syria is still in a state of war due to Turkish-support for jihadist organizations and suffering because of US-EU imposed sanctions. With Syria traditionally being a friend of Greece and thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians living in Syria, will improving relations with Damascus be a priority for you?
The “Arab Spring” was a dead end. Certain countries require certain forms of governance, at least for a certain period of time.
I can assure you it is very inconvenient for the West that their attempted removal of Assad failed. Despite the changing governments, Greece doubted Al-Assad.
You’re making a great point about the Greek Orthodox of Syria that have been overlooked by every government, let alone the Alawites and Druze that refer to elements of Greek philosophy – but we never tried to approach them.
We need to find an updated modus operandi with the Syrian government and, no, Syria cannot become Sweden anytime soon.
If Syria is sovereign, then Turkey will stop violating northern Syrian, which is a geopolitically important region.
Greece needs good relations with Syria.
8) It appears Turkey is attempting to instigate a conflict with Greece through endless provocations. If a conflict was to occur, is Greece prepared to face the Turkish threat, and what more can we do to prepare Greece if such a conflict is to occur?
Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, prepare for war).
The Hellenic Solution has played a very constructive role in the Greek Parliament, insisting on upgrading our defence systems.
I can assure you that if we were not in the Greek Parliament, the majority would have been dragged by the wishy-washy SYRIZA opposition.
A strong defence is the only language that the Turks understand. More than that, sanctions is our response on the European level.