Despite Ongoing Detente, Greek Defense Minister Says Turkey Menace

ATHENS – A rapprochement of sorts that has seen tensions dialed down between them doesn’t mean Greece isn’t still wary of Greece, said Defense Minister Nikos Dendias, saying there is still an “existential threat” despite warmer ties.

Talking to Parliament after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis went to Turkey to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who had earlier come to Greece – Dendias said there are still elements of risk between the countries.

“When there is a neighboring country that disputes a sovereign status – not just sovereign rights – and international treaties regarding minority designation, this is obviously an existential threat. The legal and geographical borders of our country are also threatened,” Dendias said, noted Turkey’s pro-government The Daily Sabah.


Despite that he said that Greece “welcomes in the most absolute way” the easing of anxieties that at times had brought the countries to the brink of a conflict over Erdogan’s demands Greece take troops off Aegean islands and that he would send an energy research vessel and warships off Greek islands.

Erdogan also had said it would be a cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime boundaries to 12 miles to shut off Turkey’s coast and he has disputed the sovereignty of the seas in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Erdogan was also upset that Greece was building up its arsenal in buying French Rafale fighter jets and warships and pushing for American-made F-35’s denied Turkey for buying Russian S-400 missile defenses that undermine NATO and could be used against Greece.

Mitsotakis said that, “I said two years ago that ‘the provocations stop and the talks begin,’ and Mr. Erdogan has now joined this path,” lauding the closer ties that have led to trade and business prospects.

Mitsotakis added that, “Greece does not forget its disagreements with Turkey. But this does not mean that we have to live with our finger on the trigger all the time,” although disagreements remain and Cyprus is off the table.


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