Former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis sent intra-party messages towards various directions while speaking to the Society for Macedonian Studies, which even awarded the President of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, with the Gold Medal.
Kostas Karamanlis’ reference, even laconically, to Prokopis Pavlopoulos, constituted a clear intra-party message towards Antonis Samaras. The award itself from the foundation, which shares a special relationship with the New Democracy founder’s family, is symbolic. The former Prime Minister, taking the floor, congratulated Mr. Pavlopoulos and noted: “Your award is in recognition of your multifaceted contribution to the country, especially during critical national circumstances”. Mr Karamanlis was referring to Prokopis Pavlopoulos’ attitude during June 2015, when without clashing with the government at the time and by not resigning either, he moved to secure the country’s EU status. He was also referring to the stance he kept regarding the Macedonian dispute, by discreetly dictating to the government to demand that what was agreed upon would be respected, via a revision of the Constitution of North Macedonia. In both cases, the Samaras side was pursuing either a conflict between Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the government or his resignation, in order to prevent the referendum in the first case and the Prespa Agreement in the second one. This is also the reason why Antonis Samaras has now announced that he will not vote for Prokopis Pavlopoulos for a second term, in the event that Kyriakos Mitsotakis endorses him. From the symbolic meaning of the Macedonian Studies Society’s award and the brief reference there is no doubt about Kostas Karamanlis’ position, who believes that Prokopis Pavlopoulos acted in an institutionally imposed manner.
Greek-Turkish relations – North Macedonia
Kostas Karamanlis’ references, as well as his speech’s overall tone, can also be regarded as indirect yet clear criticism towards Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, regarding both the Prespa Agreement and most of all the Greek-Turkish relations. Mr. Karamanlis spoke of Turkey’s direct escalation from Evros to Cyprus: “There is no doubt that we are facing an overt escalation on behalf of Turkey, from Evros to Cyprus; an escalation which is planned and systematic. We now know the motives behind the strategic moves of Ankara… Let us not be fooled, the defense of our sovereign rights and national interests will be based on our own strengths; on consolidating a concrete national front and on securing the deterrent power of our armed forces … We must at the same time work continuously to highlight the problem as Euro-Turkish, and not as purely Greek-Turkish … Forget about suggestions by allies to become reasonable and find common ground with Turkey. “It is our duty to defend the rights and interests of Greece. It is in Thrace, the Aegean and in Cyprus that the Hellenism’s resistance is measured”.
Thus far, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has not even raised the issue of the escalating Turkish provocation – as if there is no issue to discuss, during his visits to European capitals and New York or in his public statements. He demanded of the Cypriot leadership a toned-down policy, while on a symbolic level he even avoided sending aircrafts to the national celebrations of Cyprus in order not to upset Erdogan. Not only does he not enhance its defensive capability, he even avoids pulling out the fleet from Poros, while he relies on his personal relationship with Erdogan and on economic diplomacy. It is clear that Kostas Karamanlis, (like Antonis Samaras, if he ever decides to speak out), is on an entirely different page.
On the migrant issue as well, though, Kostas Karamanlis said that Turkey should honor its Agreement with the European Union while any obstructions, evasions and efforts to further exploit the situation should be recognized by the European Union in the direction of restructuring its attitude towards Turkey. So far, Kyriakos Mitsotakis simply nods to Ankara getting more money.
The Prespa Agreement
As for the Prespa Agreement, although he was speaking at a Macedonian Studies Society event, he remained careful. He argued that “the acquis that we achieved in Bucharest in April 2008, with great effort and at great cost, was not utilized as it should have been; the developments that followed showed the major weaknesses of this Agreement”. He did not, however, speak of a bad or unacceptable Agreement, or of an ethnicity, language or other type of sellout. /ibna