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Politics

Mitsotakis, Tsipras Clash in Parliament on US-Greek Defense Agreement

ATHENS – “The American writer Mark Twain said that patriotism is to support your country all the time and your government when it deserves it,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, opening his speech to the Greek parliament during the debate on the bill “Ratification of the second revision protocol of the US-Greek Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement” that is to conclude on Thursday afternoon.

(Read also: Greek PM Mitsotakis Receives New US Ambassador Tsounis)

“The text we are called to ratify is one of the many renewals of our defensive alignment with the transatlantic power,” Mitsotakis said, adding that the USA is expanding its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and also demonstrating an interest in energy. “Our country is made the key partner and interlocutor with USA in the broader region,” he noted.

“The specific agreement ceases to be a bilateral protocol and becomes a vote of confidence in Greece as an unshakeable factor for stability, as a prudent European and NATO partner that guarantees international legality in the face of any crises stirred by our neighbours. Of a crucial hub on the energy map”.

Debate on the bill “Ratification of the second revision protocol of the US-Greek Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement,” Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)(ΓΙΩΡΓΟΣ ΚΟΝΤΑΡΙΝΗΣ/EUROKINISSI)

This was an agreement, he noted, that upgraded Greece’s significance and affected not just defence and diplomacy but primarily the economy and the energy sector.

“No country can be alone in an international environment which is constantly changing,” the premier underlined, adding that this becomes imperative when it has to do with countries that have unstable neighbours.

“So-called neutrality turns into a dangerous solitude. The alleged independent policy leads to dependence on situtations created by others. We stand with the alliance of the West, we come from the Enlightenement and we walk with Democracy,” Mitsotakis said.

“That’s how our clear stance in support of Ukraine is interpreted,” he explained, adding that international law is violated alongside the violation of Ukraine’s borders. “In our foreign policy, positions of principle are aligned with our national interests. Our presence in alliances will be strong. We are friends that can be counted on in order to have, if necessary, support that can be counted upon,” he added.

Do not let your difficulties affect our national issues, Tsipras says

Debate on the bill “Ratification of the second revision protocol of the US-Greek Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement,” Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)(ΓΙΩΡΓΟΣ ΚΟΝΤΑΡΙΝΗΣ/EUROKINISSI)

Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipas, speaking in parliament on Thursday, said that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis appeared “discomfited” and “embarassed” during his speech for the ratification of the US-Greek defence cooperation agreement.

“The main reason for your embarrassment is that the vast majority of Greek society is experiencing an unprecedented plundering of households and businesses as a result of your policies. But this does not justify your coming to a discussion that is crucial primarily for national issues and be faced with this dilemma of being caught ‘between a rock and hard place’,” Tsipras said. He noted that, on the one hand, the prime minister was called upon to defend an agreement with the US where Greece received nothing in exchange – and after press revelations that the Americans were preparing to boost their support for Turkey – and on the other hand, instead of talking about “critical national issues,” to defend a policy that has led to the misery of the vast majority of Greek society.

“Do not let the difficulties you are experiencing at a national level due to your own choices become a hindrance to our national issues. Economic and social issues are separate from national issues,” SYRIZA’s leader said, adding at the same time that there are “many opportunities” to discuss issues such as the Public Power Corporation, energy or high prices.

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