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Politics

Dendias: Greece Can Only Discuss Continental Shelf and EEZ with Turkey

ATHENS — Greece's foreign policy is based on international law and the decisions of the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias repeated in an interview with Newsbomb.gr on Saturday.

Referring to relations with Turkey and the possibility of a resort to the international court of justice at The Hague to resolve differences with that country, Dendias said there first had to be an agreement on what exactly will be judged.

"The fixed Greek position, independent of government and ministers, is that the issue which we can discuss is the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone at sea," he emphasised. "If Turkey wants something else, we will not be there to discuss it," he added.

He also made clear that when Greece speaks of sea borders, it is referring to the extent of the maritime borders allowed by international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is 12 nautical miles. He emphasised that the court was not competent to decide whether UNCLOS was or was not correct: "UNCLOS is the law. The court rules based on the law, not on the law. Consequently, therefore, the territorial waters are a unilateral right of every state."

When and how Greece chooses to exercise this right is its own prerogative, he added, but this was not something that would be agreed with Turkey.

Dendias also referred to the role that penalties and the threat of sanctions have played in curbing Turkey's illegal actions in the region, such as those imposed by the United States and those threatened by the European Union, saying that these should not be considered "metaphysical" or something the international community is unable to impose.

He expressed support for direct talks between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, noting that no one else had the authority to really negotiate in Turkey and therefore "if there is a small chance, it is in contact between the two of them."

Dendias also spoke about Greece's close defence cooperation with France and his faith in the Greek-French relations, as well as the constantly improving relations with the United States, "whose level in recent years is exceptional and tending to become ever better."

He said that the election of Joe Biden has further improved the relationship with Greece, while he noted the agreement for mutual support signed with United Arab Emirates, which in 2020 had sent fully equipped F-16-60 planes to Hania.

"Going forward I hope that nothing will be needed that will lead to an implementation of an existing agreement, but the agreement is there," he said.

Dendias was critical of Germany's decision to go ahead with the sale of submarines to Turkey, noting that Turkey had been a very different country when the deal was struck in 2009.

Commenting on the Prespa Agreement, he said that Greece was bound to uphold this, especially as it was a country that cited international law to support its positions, and also because the stability of North Macedonia was absolutely in Greece's interests.

"This is whay we are helping as much as we can, why we are trying to help them join the European Union, with the conditionality that the agreement is implemented," he added, stressing that there must be a "hard, red line" when this was not upheld. He also made clear that the memorandums with North Macedonia will be ratified and that any postponement will be linked to the other side failing to meet its commitments.

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