Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos answered questions on Brexit, the government’s efforts for an agreement with the Church and Turkey, during an interview on Monday.
Referring to the initiative for an agreement between the State and the Church, he pointed out that, in a modern state, the operation of the Church is separate from that of the State. “The unacceptable embracement of the Church by the State and the confusion of their roles must stop. It is an issue that has been resolved in the rest of Europe since the end of the 19th century,” he said.
On the clergy’s payroll he gave assurances that “any agreement reached will fully guarantee the rights of the clergy because most of these people are ordinary working-class people.”
On Turkey’s aggressive rhetoric focusing on the drilling for fossil fuels in Cyprus’ EEZ, Katrougalos said: “It is in Greece’s interest to stay calm, not only because we know that our interests are protected under international law and guaranteed by international treaties but also because the Greek and Cypriot diplomatic positions are greatly strengthened. It is clear that what has been proven is that efforts to revise the treaties and keep up a highly belligerent rhetoric are of no benefit but on the contrary serve to isolate. The fact that the Cyprus Republic is proceeding to exploit its wealth-generating resources shows that the policy of questioning of international law is, at this moment, isolated,” he said.
On Brexit and United Kingdom’s future relations with EU, Katrougalos stressed that the 27 EU member-states had succeeded in “demonstrating solidarity and unity between us and towards the countries with more crucial national interests depending on the outcome of the negotiations, such as Ireland and more recently Spain, and to reach an agreement that will protect our common but also the other side’s interests”.
On the Greeks residing in the UK he clarified “it was our top priority to safeguard the rights of the Greek students and the Greek workers and it was one of the matters resolved from the very start. The rights of the Greeks will be fully guaranteed and we will do whatever is possible for the rights of those Greeks that will go to UK to be protected in the context of the future relationship. Nothing will change for those that are currently working or studying in UK, their rights will continue to be the same.”