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Politics

Tsipras: Mitsotakis “Not Taking Advantage of Momentum” to Put Pressure on Turkey

ATHENS — Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis should push for a resolution of continental shelf and exclusive economic zone issues with Turkey through the international court at The Hague, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said on Monday.

In an interview to Star Channel on the same day that the Greek and Turkish leaders met on the sidelines of a NATO Leaders Summit meeting, Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of not intending "to take advantage of the momentum, with Turkey being in a tight spot between economic developments domestically and a change in US leadership."

The main opposition leader said he had "low expectations of the meeting, even though it is their first private meeting" between the Greek premier and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Asked what he would do, he replied, "I would essentially not avoid taking big issues and the prospect of resolving our difference on the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone to The Hague, on the basis of International Law and clearly set red lines – the red line of the Lausanne Treaty, and the fact nobody can speak of gray zones."

He added, "the only thing that Mr. Mitsotakis could gain, in my opinion, is a summer moratorium, in order to avoid a repeat of last summer, where [Turkey] ended up conducting research six miles off our islands."

The party leader also criticized Turkey for its behavior and for its demand of a revised customs union with the European Union. "If it succeeds in getting it without obligations to move towards resolving its differences with Greece on the basis of International Law, then we will be the losers." The neighboring country pretends it behaves like a good kid wanting to sit down for talks, "while it's the one violating international treaties, behaving provocatively, occupying the northern part of Cyprus."

Speaking of the Prespes Agreement, he said that had it not been signed by his government in June 2018, the commentators on the European football (soccer) Cup "would now be saying that 'Macedonia' is now playing, while now they say 'North Macedonia' is playing. This is all over the place, and it's an achievement." The chamber of commerce could also have changed its name, he added, had the Greek government put pressure on it to do so on the basis of goodwill and of an agreement that sets out the principles but must be implemented.

Tsipras accused the government of 'feeling guilty' and not ratifying the three memoranda related to the Prespes Agreement. "One of them relates to the supervision of airspace by Greek fighter jets," he said. "Why isn't he tabling them for ratification? Because he is afraid of reactions in the ruling party, of [former PM Antonis] Samaras and of other New Democracy MPs," he noted.

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