Greece’s former premier George Papandreou and then PASOK Socialist leader George Papandreou warned that if Russian President Vladimir Putin is allowed to conquer Ukraine that other strongman leaders would try to copy him and further consolidate power.
Papandreou, who in 2011 was driven from office – resigning over fallout over his handling of a bailout and austerity referendum he proposed – made his first public appearance since having a pacemaker implanted.
He spoke online at the 10th Regional Growth Conference (RGC 2022) in Patras in western Greece, the country’s third-largest city, after having been scheduled to appear live before the health issue.
Papandreou, who will turn 70 on June 16, has been a Member of Parliament andPresident of the Socialist International since 2006, and spoke about Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s provocations against Greece.
Papandreou said that if Putin succeeds in using violence to further his aims, he will empower fellow autocrats.
That was reported by Kathimerini and Greece’s state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA,) but it wasn’t said if he specifically meant that apeasing Erdogan would continue to fail.
The former premier said that an answer is for the European Union – which doesn’t have a military and relies on Russia for much of its energy, exempting Russian oil and gas from sanctions over Ukraine – to have a deterrence and wean off reliance on Russia supplies.
“If Europe does not have its defense autonomy, it will not have security,” he said, although the EU said it relies on diplomacy and “soft power” that has failed to control hardliners like Erdogan and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban who regularly snubs his nose at bloc leaders.
On Erdogan, Papandreou commented if his behavior is fueled by his desire for electoral survival, he will be unpredictable, a fact already well-known and as Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he will keep trying diplomacy but has the military on alert in case of a conflict.