ATHENS — Greece is open to expanding cooperation with all its neighbors, as long as they "respect the principles of good neighbourly relations and international law," Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said at the Thessaloniki Summit 2020 on Thursday, before adding, "I presume that we are not asking for much."
At the conference of the Federation of Industries of Greece (SVE) and the Delphi Economic Forum, Dendias spoke of Turkey as being "the common denominator" in the turmoil in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greek-Turkish relations "have gone through various phases over the past decades," Dendias said, but now Turkey is "laying illegal and provocative claims on Greece's sovereignty and Greek sovereign rights," and and "it seeks to directly destabilize my country."
Turkey's provocations against Greece and its sovereignty is not new, the Greek Foreign minister said, but he pointed out three new elements "that are also particularly worrying" in the neighboring country's strategy.
He described them as follows: a) A wider array of tools used by Turkey (illegal drilling in Greek continental shelf waters, using migrants, creating fake news to discredit Greece abroad), b) using a long-term strategy to create crises "to test Greece's resilience", and c) using 19th century tactics to destabilize the entire region. Turkey, he said, has transformed itself into a "travel agency for jihadists", threatening Europe and Mediterranean countries directly.
Greece responds to these challenges by following rules of international relations and building alliances with other nations, Dendias said. As examples he followed recent agreements with Italy and Egypt on delimiting maritime zones, and with Albania on referring a similar issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. "This is how peaceful nations resolve their differences, not through gunboat diplomacy," he underlined.
Wrapping up, he said that Greece is "not going back to 19th century politics. We are not building alliances against anyone. On the contrary, we are open to expand the framework of cooperation with all of our neighbours," but they must respect good neighbourly relations and international law, he said.