Tarantilis: Exploratory Contacts Are Neither Negotiations Nor Are They Binding

ATHENS — "The 61st round of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey began on Monday in Istanbul. These are neither negotiations nor are they binding," government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis said on Monday during a press briefing.

"The goal is to resume contacts from the point where they stopped in 2016. To examine whether there is an area of convergence that could possibly lead to negotiations on the one and only issue that concerns us: that of the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, on the basis of international law," the government spokesperson pointed out.

He underlined: "It is clear, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has emphasised, that [we are not discussing anything that] concerns the national sovereignty and the rights of our country. It is self-evident that the Greek side is coming in good faith and expects the Turkish side to do the same."

Tarantilis also referred to the strengthening of the deterrent capacity of the armed forces.

"The government has already implemented the plan announced by the prime minister in Thessaloniki to strengthen the deterrent capacity of the Armed Forces. As you know, the procurement of 18 'RAFALE' fighter aircraft was voted for by Parliament. Today, the French Minister of Defence, Florence Parly, is in our country, for the signing of the relevant agreement at the Ministry of National Defence. Τhis will be followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion. We also inform you that in the coming days the first pilots and technicians of our Air Force will leave for training in France. The receipt of the first six aircraft will start in July."

Referring to the epidemiological situation in the country, Tarantilis pointed out that "Greece – according to the latest weekly maps of the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) – is still in a much better state compared to most European countries. While almost all of Europe is coloured 'red', Greece is 'orange' and almost the only European country with 'green' areas."

"Virus mutations are a major issue of concern both at a European and international level. In our country, a strict system of controlling entry from abroad with a seven-day quarantine is applied – since the first days when the new strains of the virus appeared," he said.

He added: "At the same time, the health ministry, in collaboration with the ECDC, is creating a network to raise levels of vigilance, monitoring and diagnosis of new strains throughout Greece."

The Institute of Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens has taken on a very important role in this effort.

"In any case, great care and meticulous observance of individual and collective protection measures by all of us is required. If we are not careful, the data can very quickly change. It is well known, after all, that de-escalation requires time and sacrifice, and that escalation can come in a flash. We all need to be very careful to avoid any setbacks."

Regarding the opening of economic and social activities, the government spokesperson said: "Following a proposal by the Committee of Experts, the existing measures are extended for another week.

"In other words, it is still not permitted to move from prefecture to prefecture, an SMS or printed document are required to leave one's residence, traffic is prohibited from 21:00 to 5:00, it is mandatory to use a mask indoors and outdoors."

"The ban on hunting and fishing also continues, with the exception of wild boar hunting in the Regional Units of Rodopi, Evros and Xanthi," he added.



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