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Alternate FM Xydakis’ interview with Euro2Day journalist Marina Mani
JOURNALIST: You are organizing a meeting in Athens of your colleagues from the European Socialist Party (ESP). What is the subject of the meeting?
N. XYDAKIS: The European affairs ministers affiliated with or coming from the ESP meet regularly on the margins of the General Affairs Council and draw up European policy positions. The Greek side participates as an observer, active since the 15 July meeting in Rome, which Minister of State Nikos Pappas and I attended. It was decided there that the next meeting would take place in Athens. The subject is the European Union, naturally: how it will respond to the current challenges of the multiple crises – the economic and refugee crises – and to the risk of disorientation following the Brexit. Mainly, how our political responses will strengthen democracy, the progressive orientation and social justice in Europe; precisely what is missing and is in jeopardy. The social face of the EU, the impasses of obsessive austerity, protection of labor and of the welfare state, the rule of law and social and political rights are on the agenda for the meeting. And of course the social functioning of the Union, based on its founding values of solidarity, convergence and cohesion. Our number-one priority is democracy and the prosperity of societies.
JOURNALIST: Where will you raise the issues you conclude on?
N. XYDAKIS: Our conclusions are forwarded to the European Council, in the hope of further politicizing its agenda. But also to render more substantial and effective the functioning of the General Affairs Council, which prepares the EU Summits.
JOURNALIST: Why are invitations extended only to socialists, and not to all of your colleagues with a European affairs portfolio?
N. XYDAKIS: The initiative belongs to my colleagues from the ESP. The framework is political, rather than geographical, kinship. The participants include ministers as well as figures from the European Parliament and the national parliaments of France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Malta, Greece.
JOURNALIST: The Foreign Ministry is also preparing the Rhodes Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean, with countries of the Balkans, the Middle East. What is being pursued here?
N. XYDAKIS: The Rhodes conference hopes to bring together, around the same table, all of the actors in the Mediterranean, not just Europeans and not just socialists, for a discussion of geopolitical challenges, security issues and potential approaches.
JOURNALIST: Together with the Summit Meeting of the South, which Alexis Tsipras is holding in Athens, we see a great deal of activity, aimed at what? I mean practically, beyond the dimension of extroversion that you want to give to your policy.
N. XYDAKIS: The economic crisis and the refugee crisis have shown that Europe can move ahead only united and in solidarity. Otherwise, the risk of fragmentation looms. The Brexit and the instability in Turkey show clearly that these developments are of geostrategic and historical significance. Together with everyone, our country needs to seek and articulate a multifaceted diplomacy with a mid- and long-term perspective. Geography and the state of affairs that has plagued us in the recent past can be turned to advantage. Of course, prudence, persistence and patience are required.