Greece Seeks Emergency EU Meeting On Turkey – PM

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 8, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Greece wants the EU to hold an emergency foreign ministers’ meeting, the prime minister’s office said Tuesday amid a burgeoning row with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

“The foreign minister (will) request an emergency meeting of the European Union foreign affairs council,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ office said.

The row flared Monday when Ankara sent the research ship Oruc Reis off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, where Turkey disputes Greek maritime rights.

Marine tracking on Tuesday located the vessel southeast of the island of Crete. It is escorted by a Turkish navy flotilla and shadowed by Greek warships.

Turkey has announced the Oruc Reis would carry out activities between August 10 and 23.

Energy exploration in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean is a frequent source of tension between Turkey and a bloc of its neighbours including Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday conferred with his military chiefs and spoke with EU Council President Charles Michel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Sunday called Turkey’s actions “extremely worrying” and a recipe for “greater antagonism and distrust”.

Stoltenberg urged respect for international law during talks on Monday with the Greek premier.

“The situation must be resolved in a spirit of Allied solidarity and in accordance with international law,” Stoltenberg tweeted.

AFP

Greek PM Proposes Top Female Judge As Next President

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 8, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday nominated top female judge Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou to become the country’s next president.

If approved by parliament, the 63-year-old head of the Council of State would become the first woman to hold the largely ceremonial post.

Her appointment is expected to be a formality as Mitsotakis’s conservative New Democracy party holds 158 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

The date of the parliamentary vote has not yet been set, but must take place before February 13 — one month before the end of the five-year term of current president Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

“The time has come for Greece to open up to the future,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address, emphasising that the selection breaks with tradition not only because Sakellaropoulou is female, but also because she is not a member of a political party.

He said the choice “embodies unity and progress”.

Sakellaropoulou told the state news agency ANA that the nomination was “an honour”.

She thanked the prime minister and said she was ready to “devote herself with all her might to this high duty”.

New Prime Minister Vows To Make Greece ‘Proud’ After Vote Triumph

Greece’s newly elected Prime Minister and leader of conservative New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis, speaks to the press outside the party’s headquarters after the official results of the elections, in Athens on July 7, 2019. PHOTO: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP

 

Greece’s conservative prime minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis vowed that the country would “proudly” enter a post-bailout period of “jobs, security and growth” after winning a landslide victory in Sunday’s general election.

Official results showed Mitsotakis on track to crush leftist premier Alexis Tsipras, who oversaw austerity measures after Greece’s dramatic rescue by international creditors in the European debt crisis.

“A painful cycle has closed,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address, adding that Greece would “proudly raise its head again” on his watch.

“I will not fail to honour your hopes,” he said as early congratulation calls came from outgoing European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

With official results from 94 percent of polling stations, New Democracy scored a crushing victory by nearly 40 percent — its best score in over a decade — to 31.5 percent for Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party.

“I want to see these people prosper. I want to see the children who left to return,” he later told party supporters.

Mitsotakis will be sworn in as Greece’s new prime minister on Monday.

Tsipras had earlier admitted defeat after over four years in power that saw Greece emerge from its third bailout.

The 44-year-old warned that his Syriza party would “dynamically” resist efforts to scale back the party’s pro-labour reforms.

If the results are confirmed, the 51-year-old Harvard graduate and former McKinsey consultant Mitsotakis will have a majority of 158 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament. Tsipras’s party will have 86 seats.

The final number will depend on how smaller parties fare. They need at least 3.0 percent of the vote to enter parliament.

 A family affair

New Democracy was last in power in 2014, in coalition with the Greek socialists.

Mitsotakis is a scion of one of Greece’s top political families.

He is the son of former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, one of the country’s longest-serving parliamentarians.

His sister is former minister Dora Bakoyannis, Athens’s first female mayor. And new Athens mayor Costas Bakoyannis, elected in May, is his nephew.

Sunday’s election was Greece’s third in as many months, and the first held in midsummer since 1928.

In May, New Democracy beat Syriza by nearly 9.5 points in European parliament elections. A week later, it completed a near-sweep of Greek regions in local elections.

After that, Tsipras was forced to call an early general election. His term was scheduled to end in the autumn.

 ‘Chance to recover’

Greece’s youngest premier in more than a century, Tsipras had trailed in the polls for months amid widespread dissatisfaction over high taxes.

“Greece is exiting 10 years of crisis and the new government will have the heavy task to give a chance to the country to recover completely or to sink”, 36-year-old Aphrodite told AFP, as she cast her vote in the bohemian downtown Athens neighborhood of Exarcheia.

“I hope that from tomorrow we will be able to breathe with relief. To take a deep breath, if Mitsotakis does what he promises,” added Athinodoros, a 48-year-old self-employed worker.

Tsipras has accused Mitsotakis — who was part of a 2012-2014 crisis government — of “disastrous” mismanagement that brought hundreds of thousands of job losses and business failures.

Mitsotakis has now pledged to create “better” jobs through growth, foreign investment and tax cuts and to “steamroll” obstacles to business.

Tsipras — who reduced unemployment and raised the minimum wage for the first time since 2012 — was criticised for campaigning as an anti-austerity crusader before eventually accepting a third EU bailout and the economic cutbacks that entailed.

In parts of the country, there was also a backlash against a controversial agreement with North Macedonia that ended a bitter 27-year dispute over the country’s name.

New parties

The new smaller parties fighting to secure representation are Greek Solution, a nationalist party formed by TV salesman Kyriakos Velopoulos, and MeRA25, an anti-austerity party founded by maverick economist and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

According to the exit polls, Varoufakis’s party could elect nine lawmakers.

Greek Solution could end up with 10 deputies, while neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn looks likely to be shut out of parliament for the first time since 2012.

Golden Dawn, until recently Greece’s third-ranking party, is in steep decline amid an ongoing trial for the 2013 murder of an anti-fascist rapper, allegedly carried out with the knowledge of senior Golden Dawn members.

Mitsotakis has promised to hit the ground running. A Eurogroup finance meeting on Monday will convene to discuss the state of Greece’s economy after tax cuts rolled out by Tsipras in May.

AFP