Mitsotakis Still Wants to Try Talking with Tough Talking Turkey

Athens News Agency

Greece s Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis talks during a press conference with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi after their meeting at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou Pool via AP)

ATHENS -- Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who pulled back calls for European Union sanctions after Turkey sent an energy research vessel and warships off the island of Kastellorizo, said prefers trying dialogue for now.

Speaking at the the 66th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly – held online during the COVID-19 pandemic – he said, however, he was prepared to get tough again if that fails.

“If our calls to dialogue remain unanswered, then it will be inevitable for the European Union to take steps to safeguard its strategic interests and the interests of its member states,” he said.

Mitsotakis said he's waiting for signs from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of wanting to engage in talks over boundaries in the Aegean and East Mediterranean although Turkey is proceeding with hunting for oil and gas as it's been doing in Cypriot waters.

Mitsotakis said Greece has been on the receiving end of “specific security challenges” and unilateral actions by Turkey, which “have undermined NATO's unity” throughout 2020, using careful diplomatic talk about Turkey repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters.

NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong, had steered clear of the troubles before trying to get them to accept so-called “de-confliction” measures which failed outright.

Mitsotakis, said Kathimerini, repeated his idea for Greece and Turkey to have the dispute settled by the International Court of Justice at The Hague, walking back Greece's claims to its own waters.

The EU said it won't even take up the question of sanctions until the end of the year, with Turkey using the time to continue its hunt for oil and gas and planning to do it off Crete too.