“I will repeat once more: in Thrace, in the Aegean, in Cyprus, the endurance of Hellenism is judged. And by extension, the responsibility and fate of all of us”, stressed former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis speaking in Alexandroupoli at the presentation of Manolis Kottaki’s book “The Secret Files of Karamanlis”.

Mr. Karamanlis said about the author that he does not indulge himself, that he writes sharply, without unnecessary words, guided by his professional ethics and above all his patriotism. “Regardless of whether one agrees with him or not, he is characterized by the courage of his opinion and his powerful writing,” he said.

The former Prime Minister emphasized that he considers Thrace a key bastion of Hellenism and a part of our homeland with particular geopolitical importance.

“These feelings and perceptions played a significant role in accepting the honorary offer made to me by the Cooperative Union of Tobacco Producers of Greece to include me in its wider family. For me, it is a special privilege to participate in the effort for the economic strength of Thrace, the support of agricultural production, the halting of adverse demographic trends”, he noted.

The former Prime Minister also said that Thrace was hit by a serious ecological disaster and human lives were lost, that thousands of acres of forest land were burned, that houses were destroyed and that there was great damage to plant and livestock.

“We urgently need to take care of the reconstruction of the area, to support the affected, to strengthen the infrastructure and the production base. Thrace’s prosperity is a top national priority. It is at a critical crossroads for our country and beyond. It is located between two continents and two seas. With the war in Ukraine, geopolitics, as well as its strategic value, became even more prominent. There are many who now understand, inside and outside Greece, the wider role that Thrace can play. As a bridge of peace, development, energy cooperation, but also providing security. Your city, Alexandroupolis, is located at a geostrategic crossroads, which, after the recent upgrade of its port, has taken on special value. Between the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Middle East, Greece, through Alexandroupolis, emerges as a strategic player and can claim corresponding national rewards”, he noted.

And he continued: “Recently, well-known circles are attempting, on the occasion of the resumption of the Greek-Turkish dialogue, to bring back the issue of recognizing the Muslim minority of Thrace as Turkish. There is no doubt that there are three ethnic groups here, and the member of each of them can invoke his ethnic origin, Turkish, Pomak or Roma, in the context of individual self-identification. But one cannot deliberately and maliciously confuse Treaties concerning wholes, such as the Treaty of Lausanne, with Treaties and provisions concerning individuals and individual rights. On the contrary, something admirable has happened here. The Christian and Muslim residents of the region have been a model of open democratic society and peaceful coexistence. And no third state should be thought that, in the context of well-meaning interstate relations, it can have a say in our internal affairs and make demands. And, of course, it is a mistake to think that one can connect ethnic origin with issues of emancipation.”

Kostas Karamanlis added that of course we should pursue peace and cooperation with Turkey.

“It is a country whose geography dictates that we must live with it as neighbors. It is positive when the climate in our relations, from being intensely conflictual, moves in the direction of recession. And, of course, we must exhaust any opportunity that arises to resolve our EEZ and continental shelf delimitation dispute. Greece has demonstrated, for many years, its sincerity and readiness for a peaceful resolution of this dispute, always based on International Law. But for everything else that Turkey is asking, things are resolved, clear and settled by International Treaties, International Law and the relevant regulations of international organizations and cannot be subject to negotiation or judicial heresy”, he stressed.

And he emphasized: “Therefore, when we enter into any dialogue with Turkey, we should first of all be clear about what we are discussing and what things we can negotiate. I hear that Turkey also has rights in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. No one denied the rights of Turkey. Those rights, however, that derive from International Law and from International Treaties and not those that she claims herself with her theories about gray zones and her ambitions about a Blue Homeland or the borders of her heart. Peace is not bought by ceding sovereignty. Nor with vague wording open to various interpretations, capable of encouraging Turkey – or any ally, partner or third party – to think that, in exchange for a reduction in tension, we are willing to give in to claims or pressures at the expense of our national sovereignty and dignity or sovereign rights. Nor, of course, the self-evident right of defense and deterrence for every inch of Greek territory”.

Mr. Karamanlis added that there can be no discount in matters of national sovereignty and national sovereign rights.

“Grey regulations, which aim, according to the arbitrary interpretation of our interlocutors, to freeze or suspend the exercise of our national sovereignty in the Aegean, Thrace and Cyprus, where the strategic depth of Hellenism is judged, cannot be tolerable. Much more so if the goal of third parties is the co-management of the Aegean archipelago. We Greeks seek peace and good-neighborly relations with all our neighbors, but we are always on the alert to discern any dangers lurking at the expense of our national interests. It is the duty of all of us to form a united national front to repel any demands that will lead to the division of the Aegean and the abandonment of Cyprus”, he underlined.