Giorgos Katrougalos

ALTERNATE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Greece 2019  I  Politics & Diplomacy  I  Leader

BIOGRAPHY he studied law at the University of Athens and Sorbonne University. He served until November 2016, as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity, and previously as Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction. He was also Member of the European Parliament from May 2014 to January 2015. He has published extensively in Greek, American and European legal reviews.

“THE EU IS OUR POLITICAL HOME, BUT WE AIM TO SERVE AS A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE UNION AND OTHER POWERS.”

GREEK GOVERNMENT’S APPROACH TO THE VENEZUELA CRISIS

 

Greece has traditionally had very good relations with all the countries of the Eastern Partnership, indeed fraternal relations with certain ones. We favour their European prospects, always on the condition that they will respond to the European aquis and respect the rule of law, democracy, and liberty.

 

What is of particular importance to us is for the people of Venezuela to be able to decide themselves, democratically, about their future in a manner that will be democratic and peaceful at the same time, which will reunite a very polarised society, an extremely polarised political system, and will not leave any danger for increased tensions, no danger for a prospect which we all wish to avoid: the prospect of a civil war. For this reason, in order for systematic preparations to take place for democratic elections and substantive dialogue, in order to avoid tension, and for the people of Venezuela to be able to express themselves freely, our country has proposed, from the very beginning, the creation of a group of countries that would undertake this role of political dialogue.

 

We have recently decided to put together a group in which European countries participate. Indicatively, those who have direct influence over the region due to their historical relations, such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, as well as other countries, such as France and Germany. Countries from the region were also invited, and have already agreed, such as Bolivia and Ecuador. 

 

We await responses also from other countries, such as Mexico, while invitations have been sent, and it seems that countries will respond who always share the same political approach with us, a policy of dialogue and peace, such as Switzerland, Norway, and even the Holy See, the Vatican. This, in our opinion, is the essential part: for Democracy to function, for elections to be substantive, and we indeed have ensured this in a manner that corresponds to the principles of the European Union, to protect not only political freedoms, but also the rule of law. 

 

I think this is the best response to those who would wish for political or partypolitical responses to be solely provided. And we believe that, in this manner, the freedoms of the people of Venezuela are protected in the best and most efficient way possible. Because only its people can provide a solution to issues related to democracy in their country. There are no saviours from abroad. As the Greek author states, “Salvation is a beneficial action only for the saviour.”

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COMPLETION OF THE PRESPA AGREEMENT

As we are obligated under the Agreement itself, but primarily because we consider its provisions to be nationally beneficial, we will bring it to Parliament for ratification after the other side has completed its corresponding obligations. I have no doubt that it will be passed by an absolute majority, as I have confidence in the judgment and responsibility of Greek MPs. Furthermore, there are MPs and political forces other than our own parliamentary group who have declared an initial positive view towards the Prespa Agreement. I am certain that they will not risk their political dignity being disparaged and will remain consistent in their views.

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COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED STATES

 

We achieved an upgrade to our cooperation precisely because we proved that we are a reliable strategic partner, in the context of equal relations of mutual respect and with the common goal of enhancing security and stability in our region. In the context of the “strategic dialogue” with the U.S., apart from geopolitical issues relating to defense, counterterrorism and security, we also held in-depth talks on energy, trade, and investments, with emphasis on innovation and cutting-edge technology. Both sides wish not just to maintain but to further boost the momentum achieved by Thessaloniki International Fair. 

 

For this reason, the strategic dialogue will be held annually and in the meantime committees of the ministries involved will ensure the implementation of the agreements reached, obviously with the involvement of the private sector. That is the essence of our multidimensional foreign policy. The EU is our political home, but we aim to serve as a bridge between the Union and other powers. We carry out multifaceted diplomatic initiatives at the multilateral and trilateral level, but none aimed against another country.