ATHENS — "It is of the utmost importance that the message to Ankara is absolutely clear; Easy to read and not ambiguous," President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou said on Tuesday during her meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Presidential Mansion.
Sakellaropoulou pointed out that "the only acceptable path is that of international legitimacy and cooperation with all its neighbouring countries, within the framework of the rules of international law and the principles of good neighbourliness."
She also reminded him that Greece has recently experienced a particularly intense escalation of tension, due to Turkey's delinquent and hostile actions.
"Greece's calm and decisive stance has led Turkey to a first step of de-escalation and thus the way is now open for the resumption of exploratory contacts between the two countries without the use of force. It has also contributed to the NATO initiative for an accident-prevention mechanism in the Eastern Mediterranean," Sakellaropoulou said.
In the same context, the Greek President stated that "Greece has repeatedly stressed that it seeks dialogue with all countries, without exception, in our region. But the continuation will depend on the degree of sincerity and the intentions of the Turkish side."
On his part, Stoltenberg thanked the President for her warm welcome and pointed out that Greece is a valuable partner, giving thanks for its significant participation and contribution, which – as he noted – "is appreciated by all of us."
As he said, Greece is involved in various NATO missions and operations, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, with its aircraft maintaining security over Montenegro and the Greek naval involvement being an important part of NATO's naval order.
Stoltenberg also praised Greece for meeting the target of spending more than 2 pct of GDP on defence spending for successive years.
He said that he was aware of the challenges facing Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean, while expressing his pleasure at the creation of a bilateral mechanism to avoid these crises. He explained that this mechanism will reduce the risk of accidents or incidents and, if any do occur, will contain their consequences."
Finally, he stated that he is convinced that this mechanism will also contribute to the talks, which will be held at the diplomatic level to resolve the underlying issue. "And I am confident that these differences can be resolved peacefully on the basis of negotiations based on international law and solidarity between NATO member-states," he said.