Pratto Movement members resigned from Greek Foreign Ministry

In a surprise move, three senior diplomats of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handed over their resignation on Thursday. The three diplomats were associated with the Pratto political movement, led by the former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.  

The three members entail:

Mr. Michalis Kokkinos, Director General of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad

Mr. Dimitrios Plevrakis, Deputy Director General Secretariat for Greeks

Mr. Nikolaos Exadaktilos, Deputy Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation

Treatment of Religious Miniorities in Thrace

The three diplomats left their posts upon disagreement with the government’s adoption of new policies towards the Muslim minority located in Eastern Thrace. In line with their official statement, the resigned members argued that:

‘It is of fundamental importance in a democratic state such as Greece, the right of Greek Pomak, Roma and Alevite populations not to surrender to the will of the Turkish Consulate to incorporate them under its mandate – a development traditionally supported by some Greek circles. The Pratto movement vehemently supported and will continue to do so the rights of Greek Muslim and Christian populations in the region. We declare for once again our support towards the elementary schools and libraries erected in recent years at Thrace. We will defend the right of Pomaks to avoid being taught the Turkish language. We will counter any effort directed against the Greek Muslim populations to surrender to third parties’ agendas. We will challenge any effort to incite conditions of fear in the aforementioned communities. Finally, we will continue supporting the eventual integration of Pomak associations into the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN). Accession to FUEN will break the monopoly of the Turkish Consulate’s influence to the local communities in Thrace.’

Pratto Relations with Greek Government and Syriza

The Pratto statement also discussed the movement’s relations with the government and Syriza political party. The statement reads:

‘On Thursday morning we have handed over to the Hellenic Government the resignations of the three members of Pratto political movement, holding higher public posts. These resignations were demanded indirectly or directly from the Maximus Mansion under unacceptable pretexts. This requirement is inexplicable against our political movement, the old and stable ally of Syriza political party. We hope that this development is not associated with our choice to remain a distinctive political entity and organisation. We have since 2011 remained committed and supported the society’s eventual turn towards the left and joined our forces with Syriza.’

‘Today’s resignations are at odds with the stance of Pratto as a government partner. In the last four years, all Pratto members supported the government when required. They never condoned to and did not leave the government exposed to public criticism. The movement’s members always retained their individual opinions about political developments in Greece as members of a patriotic leftist movement.’

‘Our only difference which came into public spotlight revolved around the relations of the Hellenic Government with the former partner [referring to ANEL political party] after the successful conclusion of European bailout programmes. Our position was justified. It is not coincidental that the Prespes Agreement and our position for a government reshuffling were, under a heavy burden for our movement, the catalyst for the eventual transition towards the establishment of a powerful Democratic Progressive Party. The Pratto movement will duly participate in the battle against the prevalence of the right and far-right, neoliberalism and autarchic behaviours, and will defend the country and its citizens.’

Foreign Minister’s Reaction

The Greek Foreign Minister George Katrougalos appears to have been unaware of the resignation of the three Pratto members from his ministry. The Greek Minister issued a counter-statement arguing:

‘I received upon my return from Turkey the resignation of three members of the Ministry who ideologically belong to the political movement Pratto. The Ministry never requested these resignations. I am sad for the removal of these members with whom I had an excellent cooperation and they had given their best services to the Ministry.’

Further the Ministerial statement contended that:

‘I wish to make clear that I respect and I do not wish to comment on the political decision of the coalition movement to withdraw its three members from responsible government positions. With respect to Thrace, I wish to denote that the government will continue its development policies in the region. It will maintain the status of legal and political equality for all citizens in Thrace, and will pursue additional democratic reforms to the existing rights of the Muslim minority for greater support of their needs.’

Pratto Response

In the aftermath of the Greek Foreign Minister’s response, the Pratto political movement issued a new announcement stating that:

‘In case the Foreign Minister, Mr. George Katrougalos, was not aware of the Maximus Mansion’s decisions, this is an issue of the internal operations of the government. This is a Minsterial problem, not ours.’

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