ATHENS – “Kyriakos, my friend, we don’t threaten you if you don’t threaten us,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with the Athenian newspaper ‘Kathimerini,’ indicating what he will tell the Greek Prime Minister. He added: “there is no problem that we cannot solve through dialogue, on the basis of mutual goodwill.”
Hours before his arrival in Athens Erdogan spoke with Kathimerini about all issues concerning Greek-Turkish relations, emphasizing that he looks forward to “a new page” based on the ‘win-win’ principle.
Referring to whether an agreement is possible on referring the issue of the continental shelf to the International Court of Justice, Erdoğan in the interview conducted with written questions and answers, expressed the view that in a possible appeal, more issues should be included. “There are many interrelated problems that need to be solved apart from the continental shelf. When we resort to international justice, we must not leave any problem behind,” he said.
Erdoğan also says that his statement “we might come suddenly one night” referred to “terrorist elements threatening the security of our country” and emphasizes regarded impending repairs that “the structural integrity of Aghia Sophia will not be damaged materially or spiritually, and the iconography will not be diminished and will be protected.”
More excerpts follow:
“Greece is our neighboring country, and we will always remain neighbors. We share the same geography, the same sea. We breathe the same air. We are interdependent from our past. There are many issues that we have not yet managed to resolve between us. Both countries know this. However, it depends on us whether we allow these problems to cause tensions and disagreements between our governments and our peoples. In this sense, I spoke of a ‘new page’ in our relations and the principle of ‘win-win.’ The ‘win-win’ perception is already at the core of Turkey’s approach to international relations and diplomacy. If differences are addressed mildly through dialogue and common ground is found, it is to everyone’s benefit. Recently, we have gained good momentum in shaping our relations with Greece within this perception. We revived bilateral mechanisms that had been dormant for a long time. Our channels of dialogue are open and functioning at all levels. Mutual visits are frequent. We have the will, based on mutual trust, to develop our cooperation in many areas important for our countries and our region. Now, it is the responsibility of both parties to establish, institutionalize, and promote this perception. I believe that Mr. Mitsotakis has the same willingness. The declaration on ‘good neighborly relations’ which we hope to sign in Athens on December 7, will also clearly record this common intention.”
“Greece is not our enemy but a valuable member of the alliance to which we belong. Moreover, we are neighbors; we must mutually respect each other’s rights and vital interests,” Erdogan continued, adding, “as I said, I believe that the problems will be solved within the framework of dialogue and goodwill. Of course, there are many interrelated problems that need to be solved apart from the continental shelf. We must consider them as a whole. A selective approach is not right, talking about certain issues and not talking about others, because they are all interconnected. When we resort to international justice, we must not leave any problem behind. Above all, however, we must speak openly about all our problems and direct our common opinion correctly. Here, our willingness to solve the problems will be extremely decisive. Our will is strong… I believe that if Greece adopts a similar approach, closed to external interventions, we can make a good start towards building a peaceful future for our countries.”
The President of Turkey also noted, “whether there are energy reserves or not is an issue that can be ascertained as a result of scientific research and not as a result of my personal opinion. From what we see, hopeful studies have been and are being conducted regarding this issue. The Mediterranean and the Aegean are rich in natural resource basins. In the current international conjuncture, ensuring and maintaining energy security from a strategic point of view has become a fundamental issue. In this sense, especially in the Mediterranean, there are possibilities and opportunities for cooperation. Assessing the possibilities of such cooperation can contribute to both the energy security of the countries in the region and the resolution of political issues… We prefer cooperation and are ready for it… There are many issues on which we can cooperate in the Aegean. Everything is for the peace and prosperity of the peoples, as well as for our future generations.”
(Material from ANA/MPA was used above)