ATHENS — Greece will request that the European Commission prepare ahead of time a list of strong measures against Turkey in case the latter violates the sovereignty or sovereign rights of Greece, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Sunday on Skai TV.
In an interview, Dendias spoke of Monday's EU Council of Foreign Affairs, which will discuss the issue of Turkey. He said he will also raise the issue of Turkey's decision this past week to convert World Heritage listed monument Hagia Sophia to a mosque, which he said should be addressed by the EU, UNESCO and the United Nations.
"I will leave Athens at dawn on Monday with Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides," Dendias said. "Before the Council meeting we will meet with EU High Representative Josep Borrell. But these sanctions will not relate to the Hagia Sophia issue," he underlined, referring to the list of possible measures, as the monument issue "is one for the international community, which must assume its own obligations."
The Hagia Sophia issue he noted shows that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is turning his back to international community and its rules, and constitutes part of a series of provocative actions against Greece and regional countries such as Cyprus, Libya and Egypt, contravening even Turkey's own tradition. The issue is not one between Greece and Turkey, he said of the conversion to a mosque, "it's an issue of revoking rules and of not respecting rules related to the international community." Responding to Erdogan's statement that Turkey has 453 active Orthodox Churches, Dendias said that in Thrace, NE Greece, which is much smaller than Turkey, there are 256 mosques in operation.
Asked on what Greece's reaction will be if Erdogan sends drilling ships off the islands of Karpathos or Crete, Dendias said, "We have a constitutional obligation to protect our rights. Greece will absolutely protect its sovereignty and sovereign rights, and Europe is obliged to acknowledge this."