ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, getting his back up, said that Greece prefers negotiations with Turkey in their dispute over the seas but is ready to fight if it comes to that.
Speaking during a first-ever teleconference with Greek ambassadors around the world, he said that “Greece’s readiness for dialogue is based on international legitimacy,” said Kathimerini.
But he added that Greece will defend its sovereignty and noted energy, business and defense deals with other countries, including Italy, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, France and the United States.
He said he wanted to keep open channels of communication after renewing them with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has alternated between being belligerent and reaching out with diplomacy, before backing off.
Turkey has kept sending fighter jets and warships to violate Greek airspace, ignored by NATO – the defense alliance to which both belong – and Erdogan said he would send an energy research vessel and warships around Greek islands to hunt for oil and gas.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu again accused Greece and Cyprus of harboring terrorist groups targeting his country, which has been repeated since a failed coup attempt against Erdogan in July, 2016.
Citing reports in the Turkish media, Cavusoglu said Cyprus had given permission to the Syrian Kurdish PYD party to open a representative office in capital Nicosia, an organization that Turkey considers terrorists.
Cavusoglu warned Cyprus it would pay a heavy price in the event of a PYD attack against Turkey or Turkish Cypriots. “They should not play with fire,” he also said.
He said that Greece gave shelter to members of the PKK and the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a Marxist organization but provided no proof, and denied by Greek officials.
Cavusoglu further accused Greece of supporting the FETO movement around US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan said had directed the failed coup attempt.
Mitsotakis also emphasized that Greece is a strong and extroverted country that contributes to international developments, has a say and opinion in every multilateral forum, is able to innovate, show the way and be ahead of other countries in European debates; a typical example of this is Greece’s initiative for the European Digital Certificate of Covid-19, but also for mandatory vaccinations.
“The age of introversion, the age of misery, has passed irrevocably. Greece in 2022 is not the Greece of 2012, and it is now in a position to claim -and it must- its role in the international scene,” the prime minister noted.