ATHENS – Apart from the major opposition SYRIZA opposing sending military equipment, the usual rancor in the Greek Parliament was set aside to come together over Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.
It was a rare show, indeed, as the country’s political parties bicker at the drop of a hat over almost everything and there is little chance of unanymity on any issue but this one came close.
SYRIZA didn’t this time, as it has before, jump into a debate to rail against Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government, siding with other parties to condemn the all-out invasion.
“It is very important to focus more on the positive messages that Parliament can send and to reduce to a minimum any of our disagreements,” Mitsotakis said after having hearing from his rivals.
He even applauded SYRIZA, as well as the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) for denouncing “without any asterisks and footnotes Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
In soft tones he almost never uses, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said that “when the moments are critical it is necessary to have a high level of political dialogue,” although his party didn’t want military gear sent to Ukraine.
The conciliatory talk even spilled over into discussions about relations with Turkey where tension is growing and fears it could reach near-conflict levels over increased provocations.
“Despite the tension and despite the provocative rhetoric of Turkey, the framework of bilateral contacts at the level of both political negotiations and confidence building measures, as well as exploratory contacts, is open,” Mitsotakis said, reported Kathimerini.
“Personally, I have never closed the door to dialogue with Turkey. I am personally ready to meet with (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan at any time, and indeed the current circumstances may justify such a meeting,” he added.
“I think everyone today has realized that revisionism in practice can come at a huge cost,” he said as there was worry in Greece that Turkey would follow the playbook of Russian President Vladimir Putin and try to encroach on Greek territory or the seas between the countries.
Noting Mitsotakis’ efforts, Tsipras welcomed “the fact that you have declared openness in the dialogue with Turkey. “I think it is a good strategy for the country. The position and the attitude are correct.”
While saying that Turkey wants dialogue – but at times warning it would be a cause for war if Greece extends its seas limits from 6 to 12 minutes –
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar accused Greece of seeking to exploit the crisis in Ukraine in order to attack Turkey.
“Certain (Greek) politicians continue their anti-Turkish rhetoric, distorting in a deliberate and aggressive manner incidents and events … escalating tensions,” Akar said after a cabinet meeting, the paper said.
“They even use developments in Ukraine in order to attack Turkey,” he added, referring to verbal shots, without clarification, but he said he still expects a 65th round of exploratory talks to resume after the first 64 have failed.