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Dendias: Greece Has Launched Campaign to Dispel 'Myth' of West-Leaning Turkey

Αssociated Press

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias speaks during a join news conference with Israel s counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides after a meeting between the foreign Ministers of Greece,Israel and Cyprus in Athens, on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS -- Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias highlighted both the unprecedented duration but also extent of recent Turkish provocativeness in an interview with the Greek newspaper "Proto Thema" published on Sunday, where he pointed to Turkey's instrumentalisation of migration, constant violations of Greek airspace and flights above Greek territory, as well as the sending of seismic research vessels to waters within Greece's continental shelf.

He noted that Greece was not letting any Turkish challenge go unanswered but instead creating networks of relationships with countries also harmed by Turkish expansionism.

"We have begun a campaign to dispel the myth and image of Turkey as a West-leaning partner," he said. "We are projecting to everyone the true image of today's Turkey, a country with neo-Ottoman intentions, which wants to impose its will on the region, and a country that supports extremist Islamist organisations.

"We do not wish to militarise the confrontation, nor are we the ones that will raise the level of tension precipitously. This should not, however, be interpreted as tolerance," he added. "We will alway react accordingly to each provocation. Our desire is a different Turkey that respects the principles of peaceful coexistence of neighbouring states and will have a European perspective once more. We have no differences with Turkish society," he said.

According to Dendias, Turkey's image in the European Union is changing and it is becoming apparent that the threat it poses is not a Greek-Turkish bilateral issue but a constant and rising threat for all of Europe and the ideas it represents.

He noted that Turkey now faced a list of sanctions and that the weeks ahead of the European Council in December would show whether the period allowed for diplomacy to work had brought results, while noting that Turkey's current behaviour did not allow much optimism on this score.

"Turkey must realise that a deterioration of its relations with Greece has a cost, literally and metaphorically, while there is no benefit," he said.

On exploratory talks, Dendias said Turkey had shown little willingness to engage in constructive dialogue, opting instead to create a tense climate that made talks impossible. 'As long as illegal Turkish activities continue in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, there is no possibility for the start of constructive dialogue," he said.

Dendias also spoke about Greece's imminent expansion of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles, noting that a unilateral expansion was the country's inalienable right under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The agreement with Albania to refer the differences of the two countries regarding the continental shelf to the international court at The Hague was an important precedent for the region, he added.

Regarding his visit to Berlin, Dendias said he had raise the issue of the T-214 submarines due to be delivered to Turkey by Germany and had stressed that "it is not in Germany's interests to arm a country having revisionist ambitions with advanced weapons systems that it may then use to threaten EU member-states."

He said his arguments were understood and that some of his interlocutors agreed that there must be an arms embargo on Turkey, promising to make every effort in this direction.