The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, is sending a message that Greece is shielding itself, taking initiatives, developing relations in the face of Turkish provocations, expressing his concerns about a hot episode.
Speaking to Real News, Nikos Dendias talks about an unprecedented escalation of revisionism and nationalist rhetoric from Turkey, as well as systematic criminal behavior, while declaring that constructive dialogue is always possible, but it can be achieved under one inviolable condition, the respect for International Law, underlining the need to maintain open channels of communication with the Turkish side.
He points out that he maintains social contacts with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and if the need arises, there is always the possibility of communication.
“But this is not sufficient for an intelligent and effective dialogue.
“The problem lies in the fact that the Turkish side, through its own fault, has stopped all institutionalized contacts, at all levels,” he emphasizes.
Answering a question about whether he is worried about a heated episode or a provocation from Turkey, the foreign minister states that in this context it is reasonable to question and reflect on the possibility of a “heated” episode, a deliberate provocation or even an “accident” , which under conditions of tension could take on unpredictable dimensions.
Even more so, he notes, “when we don’t expect this extreme rhetoric to stop, on the way to the elections in Turkey.”
In this light, repeating the message he had sent during the visit of the French foreign minister to Athens, he emphasizes that “bullying and threats do not scare us”.
Asked if we would be alone in the event of an incident, Mr. Dendias states that “the answer is clearly negative”, noting at the same time that a country must and can cope with its own forces, with appropriate preparation for everything levels, in every situation.
Specifically, he observes that as the Russian invasion of Ukraine amply demonstrated, revisionism and the attempt to change borders by force are internationally condemned, they contradict fundamental rules of International Law, which is the “gospel” of our foreign policy.
In fact, he emphasizes that one of the main reasons why he went to Kyiv in the midst of bombings was precisely to point out the similarities between the Russian policy towards Ukraine which resulted in the invasion and Turkey towards us and to underline that the Turkish threat is real and should not be underestimated by our Western partners.
However, he distinguishes an important difference between Greece and Ukraine:
“Greece is strong and is additionally covered by three mutual assistance agreements, in the event that it is attacked.”
As he clarifies, the oldest is provided for in the Treaty of the European Union and is an obligation of all member states to help a country that is the victim of an attack, and the other two are provided for in bilateral agreements that he signed with his counterparts in France and the United Arab Emirates.
“We are also covered by a fourth agreement, the oldest of all, the NATO treaty.
“Of course, it does not cover us from the possibility of an attack by Turkey, but it is clear that the other allies, starting with our strategic partner, the USA, will do everything possible in order not to break the cohesion of NATO”, he adds.
In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs discerns, through the constant effort and the continuous development of the Greek positions, as well as the highlighting of the challenges we face, a reshaping of the attitude of the partners.
Indicatively, he mentions that he has met with his German counterpart, Analena Berbock, three times in the last five months and now discerns an understanding on the German side regarding what Greece is facing in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“This change did not come by itself. It is the result of constant contacts that we have developed in recent years, even before the German elections. This policy is bearing fruit”, he notes.
It also highlights the inherent contradictions that the war in Ukraine has brought to Turkey’s foreign policy, such as a NATO country not implementing sanctions against Russia and at the same time arming itself with Russian systems and demanding that the US allow it to modernize of its American aircraft, the F-16s.
Asked when the territorial waters should be extended to 12 nautical miles south of Crete, Mr. Dendias replied that the right to extend territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS), constitutes a unilateral, non-negotiable, inalienable right of our country.
A right that exists and will always exist, because this is how International Law defines it and that each government will decide when, where and how to exercise it, with the sole aim of optimal protection and the absolute defense of the national interest.
He also states that he is confident that the country’s political forces understand this completely and will demonstrate the necessary maturity, so that this specific issue of major national importance is not reduced to a subject of controversy in the midst of the pre-election climate that is already beginning to take shape.
“Under no circumstances should these issues be the subject of political and small-party confrontation”, he emphasizes.
With regard to the upgrade of the F-16s requested by Turkey, he points out that – as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis emphasized in his speech to Congress – it is appropriate to take into account the risk of instability in NATO’s south-eastern wing when decisions are made for the supply of military equipment to the region, at a time when unity in the Alliance against Russia is needed.
“We have serious challenges and unprecedented threats against the sovereignty of Greece and especially against our islands.
“And the same is true in relation to Cyprus. Revisionism is a danger to regional stability.
Furthermore, Mr. Dendias makes it clear that the agreement delimiting the Exclusive Economic Zone between Greece and Egypt ensures the sovereign rights of the two countries and that it is in full compliance with the requirements of International Law and especially the International Law of the Sea, which , as he underlines, does not apply to the Turkish-Libyan “memorandum”, which is illegal, invalid, legally non-existent, but also constitutes a geographical paradox.
Finally, regarding Libya, he emphasizes that there is full understanding with Egypt, but also with many other countries and specifies that “our common strategic goal is a stable, prosperous and peaceful country, which can contribute to the consolidation of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“And not to incite the tension inside Libya, with further “agreements”, by a government that does not have popular authorization.
“”Agreements” which are an obvious product of Turkey’s blackmail on a government that has lost its legitimacy”, he declares.
He points out that in direct coordination with Egypt, the two countries denounced the recent signing of a “memorandum of cooperation” between the government of Tripoli and Turkey.
In this regard, he adds, he was immediately denounced by the EU, the USA, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy and many other countries.