Dendias: Dialogue without blackmail, provocations and the threat of war
“Dialogue must be carried out without intimidation or blackmail, without provocations and without the threat of war,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias emphasised in an interview with the Greek newspaper “Real News” released on Sunday.
“Turkey is making a mistake if it thinks that through this pointless effort and by generating faits accomplis that Greece will back down and accept the illegality at its expense,” he added.
Dendias noted that Greece has proved that it promotes dialogue with all its neighbours, without exception, since the agreements with Egypt and Italy, as well as the defence agreement with the United States, were all achieved through sincere dialogue. A similar dialogue, due to begin shortly, will lead to an agreement with Albania, he said.
He said Athens welcomed Germany’s willingness to play a constructive role for a de-escalation of the tensions caused by Turkey but noted that “until now, Turkey’s systematically delinquent behaviour makes its statements about a readiness to engage in dialogue hollow and a ruse.”
“In order to have a dialogue, there has to be a de-escalation and a clear reference framework, which can be none other than international law, the law of the sea and the rules of good neighbourliness. There can be no dialogue outside this self-evident framework,” the minister said.
He said that Greece was striving for a peaceful resolution of its differences through dialogue, based on the rules outlined by international law. “We will continue to urge Turkey to participate in the contemporary world reality, with respect for international law, the sovereignty and sovereign rights and the other countries in its environs. To stop being a sadly discordant note in our region and to work for security, stability and the prosperity of all peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East,” he said.
Dendias described the agreements for the EEZ boundaries with Italy and Egypt as “balanced” and “fully aligned with international law and the law of the sea,” saying that they promote mutually beneficial solutions between neighbouring countries and promote Greece’s interests.
“They also make obvious the difference in the way that our country and other countries in our region choose to resolve differences and how Turkey insists on its systematically illegal behaviour,” he said, adding that both agreements will be submitted to the United Nations now that their ratification process is completed and that he will brief UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during their meeting next Friday.
Regarding Turkey’s announcement of plans to grant concessions in areas falling within the Turkish-Libyan memorandum, which Greece considers illegal and void, Dendias said that “Greece will defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights with every legal means at its disposal.”
“Greece’s rights to the sea region covered by the illegal and void Turkish-Libyan memorandum are in no way affected, despite the gross attempt to usurp them. The legal agreement that we have signed with the friend-nation Egypt, an agreement of two countries that share a common sea border, has come to overlap and confirm the completely illegal nature of the Turkey-Sarraj memorandum. Turkey, by militarising the situation, reveals in the most obvious way the paucity of its own legal arguments,” Dendias pointed out.
On the possibility of Turkey sending a research vessel, the foreign minister said Greece has “specific legal options”. He said Athens was building a diplomatic shield that will act as a deterrent for Turkish aggression but also noted the operational readiness, combat worthiness and deterrent power of the Greek armed forces.
“Greek diplomacy has over the recent period shown an effectiveness in achieving targets that have previously been elusive,” Dendias said, noting that Greece’s goal was to gradual delimitate all its sea borders, especially with Cyprus.
He said the decision to extend Greece’s territorial waters to 12 miles in the Ionian sea was “historic” and cited the prime minister’s clear statement that Greece intends to exercise the same right in other sea regions in the future, with respect for the law of the sea and implementation of the mid-line.
“Greece has a clear strategy with regard to this and is working methodically for the gradual expansion of our territorial waters,” he said.
“Greece has expressed, via the prime minister, its readiness to resort to the International Court at The Hague if we do not succeed in reaching an agreement with Turkey through dialogue,” Dendias said, while noting that this demanded that both parties accept the court’s jurisdiction and have precisely agreed which differences the court will be asked to arbitrate.
Greece has, of course, repeatedly and under all governments stated that the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean constitute a single geographical space and a single difference and therefore a uniform process of difference resolution. Let us not forget that Cyprus is also in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
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