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Interview of Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis in the Athens weekly ‘Real News’, with journalist G. Siadimas (11 August 2019)
JOURNALIST: Turkey is not only continuing its provocations in the Cypriot EEZ, but is threatening to carry out surveys in the maritime region of Kastellorizo. Are you concerned about this possibility? How should we respond?
M. VARVITSIOTIS: Turkey is behaving in a provocative manner that disregards international law, the Law of the Sea and the condemnation of the international community. This stance on Turkey’s part constitutes further escalation that undermines the stability and security of the eastern Mediterranean region. In contrast, Greece is a force for stability and peace in the wider southeast Mediterranean region. Our shield consists of our alliances in the European environment and in the region, such as our alliances with Israel and the U.S., and our Armed Forces are our spear. We will not tolerate any dispute of our sovereign rights, and any unilateral actions cannot and will not go unanswered on any level.
JOURNALIST: Do you think North Macedonia is fully implementing its commitments under the Prespa Agreement? If not, do you intend to block its European course in the fall?
M. VARVITSIOTIS: We inherited a poor agreement from the previous government – an agreement Syriza signed, forfeiting negotiating cards and national positions Greece secured in the Interim Accord and in Bucharest. Our government is monitoring every step the government in Skopje takes, and in no case will we allow the expression of irredentism or violations of the rule of law, which have direct repercussions for North Macedonia’s path to EU membership. We are already closely monitoring the elimination of all symbols of antiquity from our neighbour’s public spaces. Finally, one of our primary objectives is to protect Greek products and Greek brands – matters that the Tsipras government left to chance.
JOURNALIST: Do you think a no-deal Brexit is the most likely scenario? If so, how damaging do you think a no-deal Brexit would be for our country?
M. VARVITSIOTIS: Greece has longstanding historical ties with the United Kingdom – ties that extend across a range of economic, political, academic and social activities. The probability of a no-deal Brexit was increased by the election of Boris Johnson. In a no-deal scenario, the Greek economy could suffer a 0,9% fall in GDP, with repercussions on many levels in other sectors as well. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken measures and drawn up a national action plan consisting of 128 actions on the interministerial level that concern the social security of Greeks residing in the UK, recognition of academic degrees and professional qualifications, and ensuring the smooth functioning of Greek educational institutions in the United Kingdom. In any case, we are preparing for every scenario.