Main opposition SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday criticized the New Democracy government on its handling of Greek-Turkish current affairs in an interview to TRT TV during his tour of Thessaly, northern Greece.
He criticized the government for pursuing what he called a policy of inaction and appeasement of Turkey in the hope this would help the migratory influx from Turkey to subside, and he stressed that it “should never mix Greek-Turkish relations with the migration crisis.”
Asked on why Greece did not declare an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), he said this should be made following agreement with Turkey. “A country can go it alone,” he said, “but unilateral delimitation of an EEZ can be a double-edged sword and bring negative repercussions.” He then elaborated, “Greek foreign policy is orientated towards consensual solutions. This is why, starting with my own government, we began exploratory talks to tackle the dispute concerning the continental shelf.”
He added that “we have to insist on finding a solution, and not stand by inactive in the face of illegal actions.”
Tsipras argued that the government should press the EU to implement the recent sanctions against Turkey – which he said he and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades achieved together at the EU Summit – and to seek to extend these against Turkey for its actions south of Crete as well.
The SYRIZA leader then said that Kyriakos Mitsotakis pursued a populist rhetoric on the migration crisis, ”managing to worsen the situation, as there are now 15,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the Moria hotspot in Lesvos island, compared to the 5,500 people at Moria when we handed over.” He also criticized the decision to abolish the Migration Ministry and “spread responsibilities among four ministers coordinated by a deputy minister.”
Concerning the Prespes Agreement, which was signed between Greece and North Macedonia (as it was later called) during SYRIZA’s rule, Tsipras noted how Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prior to national elections in July 2019, “had said that if he came to power he would prevent their accession process in the EU, while now he is taking initiatives in favor of North Macedonia’s accession prospects.”
“Mitsotakis reacted to the agreement only for political gain, which is unacceptable,” Tsipras said, and also criticized the New Democracy leader for saying he is pursuing measures to fight climate change yet supports large-scale projects that have negative repercussions on the environment.