ALEXANDROUPOLIS – Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday called for a tougher stance against Turkey, including more EU sanctions, in comments while visiting the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis.
"Turkey must stop the escalation of tension and illegal behaviour. Its unilateral action, together with the current government of Libya, to proceed with an unsupported agreement that is outside and beyond all sense of international law can bring only bad results in the near future," Tsipras said. He stressed that respect for international law was essential for good neighbourly relations.
SYRIZA's leader called for an extension of EU action against Turkey over its illegal behaviour in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone while accusing the government of "inertia and a policy of appeasement" and asking that the National Council on Foreign Policy be convened.
"We had warned that a policy of appeasement so that Turkey will reduce migration flows will not bring any result. Our forecast was proved correct: we have actions against our sovereign rights and no progress regarding the proper observation of the EU-Turkey agreement," Tsipras said.
"We need a national strategy and alliances to deter similar actions," he added.
"We must return our words and our actions to the framework of the multidimensional and active foreign policy that [the SYRIZA government] exercised throughout the previous period, when we got a series of favourable decisions from the EU summit also, such as sanctions in response to Turkey's illegal behaviour in the Cypriot EEZ, sanctions that it seems must unfortunately be extended in response to Turkey's illegal activity south of Crete," Tsipras added.
Migration loomed large in the talks between SYRIZA's leader and local mayors, where he noted that the problem was "here to stay" and again accused the government of lacking strategy and a plan for dealing with this issue.
Other issues touched on in the meeting with mayors from the surrounding region included the growth model for Thrace, where he noted that this should not be based on activities that harmed the environment, like mining, and brought relatively modest growth.