ATHENS – Despite Turkey offering to reach out to talk about who has the rights to parts of the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he doubts it's legitimate but Greece is willing to try anyway.
Turkey has the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo where they will stay until Nov. 29, little more than two weeks before a Dec. 10-11 European Union meeting to take up sanctions.
Turkey said its planned withdrawal then was a goodwill gesture – it has done the same before only to then immediately step up provocations – and Dendias blasted Greece's neighbor for violating international laws.
He said the ongoing hunt for oil and gas in and near Greek waters – Greece's navy is shadowing the Turkish ships – means there can't be any “constructive dialogue,” but that Greece will try more of what hasn't worked yet.
“Turkey, from August and until now, has been constantly expanding its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, in blatant violation of international law and the Law of the Sea,” Dendias said in a statement published by the Foreign Ministry in Athens, said Kathimerini.
“It is trying, by force, to create precedents at the expense of European Union member-states, and shows disdain for the clear positions and decisions of the EU, but also the appeals of the international community,” he added.
Dendias said with the EU meeting coming up that that Turkey missed “yet another significant opportunity” to restore relations with the bloc, adding that Turkey has “made a choice to act in a way that undermines international law and European objectives.”
Turkey’s behavior, he said, is “revisionist, destabilizing and dangerous to the security of the immediate and broader region, but also to the priorities and values expressed and promoted by the EU.”
Despite doubting dialogue offered by Turkey is genuine, he said Greece believes it's the best avenue to ease tensions, noting Greece pulled back demands for EU sanctions to give diplomacy a chance – which led Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to send his ships back into Greek waters.
“In a similar spirit, the EU has delayed decisions on measures and sanctions, stating that it willing to examine a positive agenda of actions and policies towards Turkey, but on the same condition: that Turkey’s illegal activities cease once and for all,” he said.
He said Turkey's actions, “scupper any prospect of dialogue with our country and, unfortunately, leave no room for any positive agenda at the upcoming European Council,” in December.
“Regardless of its recent claims, it will not be easy for Turkey to trick the EU this time. The European Union is not naïve,” Dendias said in an apparent response to the “hand of friendship” extended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Europe, via his representative, Ibrahim Kalin, who was in Brussels.