ATHENS – Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas reiterated on Monday that the first goal for Greece is to restore its credibility, something that, as he said, it succeeds in doing every day.
“We are meeting the primary surplus target for 2019, we will meet the primary surplus target for 2020 and the issue will be discussed at high level in early 2020. The prime minister already raised the issue at the last European Council meeting, and the finance minister at the Euroworking Group and the Eurogroup meeting,” he underlined in an interview with Skai TV on Monday.
Referring to the possibility of Greece taking recourse to the Hague over Turkey’s continental shelf claims, he stated that it the procedure for the signing of an arbitration agreement has stalled for decades, with Turkey’s responsibility. “We always want open communication channels because, as the prime minister has said, they are very useful when we are at a period of tension. So the talks for confidence-building measures (CBM), being held at technical level, are a channel of communication,” he said.
Assuming that the CBM will bring a positive result, “what will follow will be exploratory talks between the two countries, which could, potentially result in an agreement to resort to arbitration, then taking recourse to the International Court at the Hague.” However, he added, “we are a long way away from getting to the International Court at the Hague,” and he called on Ankara to stop issuing provocative statements.
On the EastMed natural gas pipeline, which connects East Mediterranean sources to Greece through Cyprus, he said that as long as it offers sufficient quantities of natural gas to Europe at reasonable prices, it secures the continent’s energy by differentiating its sources and the regions it is sourced from. The pipeline is an incentive to upgrade collaboration among countries in the region, he added.
“It is an entirely lawful, reasonable and cost-efficient project, therefore neither Turkey nor anybody else has any reason to oppose something that is grounded on international law,” Petsas said. “On the contrary, countries that see international law being affected by Turkish provocative actions can activate any diplomatic protection mechanism to deter them,” he underlined.
Commenting on public demonstrations, Petsas said that it is everyone’s inalienable right to protest for something they considers unfair, but they must respect the public sphere.
On complaints referring to police violence, he said that the Greek Ombudsman has been supervising a mechanism on complaints, which totalled nearly 320 between 2017 and the end of 2018. All incidents of violence must be examined, he said, and perpetrators must face consequences, whether they are state staff or police. “But this should be true for all sides, not just us,” he said.