ATHENS – The March 25 Independence Day anniversary should be used for Greeks to stand together against renewed Turkish aggression just as they did when winning freedom from the Ottoman Occupation in 1821, major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said.
“Greek men and women will stand united in the defense of our national rights and international law,” said Tsipras, describing the 1821 War of Independence as “a source of inspiration in the struggles for freedom and justice,” in his statement marking the day.
He staying clear of criticizing his rival and the man who ousted him in July 7, 2019 snap elections, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis who had dispatched riot police and Army units to the land border earlier after Turkey opened its side and sent thousands of migrants there and urged them to cross over.
He called for the European Union to issue sanctions although the bloc’s leaders are reluctant to taker on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for fear he will again send more refugees and migrants through Greece, including islands.
Turkey is drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and Erdogan said he would do the same off Crete under a maritime deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, denounced by Mitsotakis who wants an international alliance against the provocations but didn’t get any support from NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong.
“Turkey must realize that if there is no respect, there can be no dialogue,” he said although he didn’t confront Erdogan aggressively during SYRIZA’s 4 ½ years in power.
Tsipras also called for measures to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic on public health and social cohesion without noting SYRIZA didn’t bolster the health care sector when he was ruling.
“The government must wage a battle in Europe (in support of) bold decisions against neo-liberal recipes,” said Tsipras while cautioning against a “return to the unfair policies which led to the recent painful economic crisis.”