ATHENS – Greece will not allow itself to be drawn and always respond calmly to the heightening of Turkey’s rhetoric and provocative actions, while at the same time leaving nothing unanswered and protecting the country’s national interests, foreign ministry spokesperson Alexandros Papaioannou said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
He said that Greece’s letter to the United Nations Secretary General, sent in response to Turkish assertions, presented clear legal arguments that systematically picked apart those presented by the Turkish side.
“In recent days we have seen heightened Turkish rhetoric in response to these actions,” he added, while repeating that Greece’s foreign policy was and will continue to be firmly based on specific values and principles, which included respect for international law and the law of the sea.
He also underlined that Greece never responds on a person level and always speaks about the actions of a country, not individuals, and that it desires dialogue with Turkey but only on the basis of international law.
“We reply calmly and soberly, on the basis of international law, while at the same time informing our partners and allies,” he added.
Papaioannou said that Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will be continuing his tour of the Balkans, relaying the message that the momentum of reforms for EU accession must not be lost, in spite of the fatigue caused by a long hiatus in European enlargement.
“This must not be an obstacle, either for the EU nor for these countries,” he said, noting that a European course benefits the region because it avoids the infiltration of other destabilising forces, while also benefiting the EU by expanding the region of stability and security in a sensitive area of Europe.
The minister’s second key message, he added, was that any discussion for a change in borders or the status quo in the region will have disastrous consequences, both for the region and more broadly.
Thirdly, he said, Dendias will point to opportunities for strengthening economic and trade relations and cooperating in the energy sector as the pandemic subsides, as well as Greece’s conversion into a transit hub.
Seizure of Greek-owned ships in Iran
Greece has taken all necessary action on a diplomatic level, Papaioannou said, including a demarche sent to the Iranian ambassador, collaboration with the European External Action Service and between the Greek shipping ministry and the International Maritime Organisation.
The foreign minister has also contacted his counterparts in the United states, Israel, Saudi Arabia on the telephone to discuss this issue, while Greece is working closely with the foreign minister of Cyprus, he added.
Papaioannou announced that Foreign Minister Dendias will be visiting Jordan on Thursday for the EU-Jordan Council.