The existence of two wars in the wider region makes the need for calm in Greek-Turkish relations even greater, emphasizes Serres member of parliament Tasos Hatzivasileiou of ND in an interview with “MtK”.
The 1st Vice-President of the European Affairs Committee notes that the calm in the Aegean is the only positive news in the wider region, while meaningfully adding: “We are not naive. No one in Athens believes that Turkey has suddenly changed. However, we continue to work on building the trust that is currently lacking in Greek-Turkish relations.”
He notes that “although Turkey remains a pole to be reckoned with, its credibility is at a historic low. Ankara is flirting with a change in strategic planning and is questioning its NATO identity. And this should worry the governments of the West.”
Regarding the crisis in the Middle East, he points out that “civilians and the humanitarian aid mission are the highest priority. The release of hostages by Hamas could create a relief valve. As long as there is no progress on the hostage issue, de-escalation is difficult.”
Mr. Hatzivasiliou, the situation in the Middle East does not seem to be easing. Where do you think this new bloody tension stems from? Who is responsible?
The responsibility for igniting the Middle East lies with the terrorist organization Hamas. The historic attempt at rapprochement between the Arab world and Israel, with the Abraham Accords, had alarmed the radicalized Hamas from the beginning, since any attempt to stabilize the region would reduce its own influence. The deadly October 7 attack on Israeli civilians was aimed at halting this process of rapprochement. But, under no circumstances should Hamas be confused with the Palestinians, who rightly claim the creation of a national home, on the borders of 1967.
Do you see light at the tunnel for peace in the near future? And on what basis?
The current crisis in the Middle East will fundamentally change the region. For now, the priority is the creation of safe humanitarian corridors to support the residents of Gaza. In addition, the statement of the leader of Hezbollah was important, which effectively takes Iran out of the crisis and shows reluctance for a general flare-up. Civilians and the humanitarian aid mission are the highest priority. The release of hostages by Hamas could create a relief valve. As long as there is no progress on the hostage issue, de-escalation is difficult.
How do you judge the aggression that Tayyip Erdoğan has been expressing lately and on the occasion of the crisis in the Middle East towards the USA and Israel?
The rhetoric of the Turkish President brings him into direct conflict with Israel and alienates him from the moderate Arab countries. In essence, Erdogan is prioritizing his appeal to an international Muslim audience, claiming the role of the “father” of Sunni Islam. Tearing down the bridges it had built to Tel Aviv, Ankara’s plan for an energy pipeline from Israel to the European market, via Turkey, is moving away. At the same time, a new crisis is being caused in American-Turkish relations. The pending F-16s and the completion of Sweden’s NATO membership complicate the situation. Although Turkey remains a pole to be reckoned with, its credibility is at an all-time low. Ankara is flirting with a change in strategic planning and is questioning its NATO identity. And this should worry the governments of the West.
Do you see the recent relative calm in Greek-Turkish relations being endangered? Is the Summit meeting of Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the Turkish President in Thessaloniki on December 7 in danger?
The recent crisis in the Middle East has confirmed that Athens and Ankara have diametrically opposed views on a number of issues. But the calm that prevails in the Aegean today is the only positive news in a neighborhood that is between two wars, one in Ukraine and one in the Middle East. The existence of two wars in the wider region makes the need for calm in Greek-Turkish relations greater. The political time until December 7 is dense, but the plan is to hold the Supreme Cooperation Council normally. We are not naive. No one in Athens believes that Turkey has suddenly changed. However, we continue to work on building the trust that is currently lacking in Greek-Turkish relations.
Inside, the big bet is dealing with accuracy. Why hasn’t the government succeeded so far?
I do not agree with you that the government has not succeeded, but the situation requires constant vigilance. Since the beginning of the international crisis, the government of New Democracy has been fighting a constant battle against inflationary pressures. The big weapon against accuracy is the increase in the disposable income of Greek households. By raising salaries in the public and private sectors, by increasing pensions, by reducing taxes, the government implements its pre-election commitments and supports society. Fiscal stability leaves room for strengthening the social protection network for our vulnerable fellow citizens. At the same time, with constant controls on the market, the government shows zero tolerance for cases of profiteering, punishing companies that break the law with heavy fines. In addition, it promotes targeted measures, such as the “Permanent Price Reduction” program, in which 660 products have already joined.
Are you concerned about the lack of a strong opposition and that the ND appears so politically dominant in the polls? Are you afraid of complacency and arrogance?
The smooth functioning of the democratic state presupposes responsibility, transparency, democratic control and accountability. The main role of the opposition, and in particular the official opposition, is to control government policy and submit fruitful proposals. When this does not exist, it is certain that the conditions for imbalance and possibly complacency are created. But the Prime Minister has set the tone, saying we should keep our eyes and ears open. The government will advance its reform agenda and with the sole aim of solving the problems will work to really change the country. Obviously we would like to have a fruitful dialogue. And it is sad that the opposition as a whole is anything but up to the demands of the times.