Greece enters into exploratory contacts with Turkey “in good faith, in a constructive spirit” and without provoking, notes Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in an interview with the “Journal of the Authors”, but clarifies once again that issues are not discussed that concern national sovereignty and the demilitarization of the islands.
As he states, “almost five years have passed since the last round of exploratory contacts, which ended with Turkish fault in March 2016” and “for this reason they have taken on a” mythical dimension “.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs points out that the exploratory ones are not negotiations, they are informal, they are not observed in practice and neither side undertakes obligations and commitments.
“The issue of possible future negotiations will be the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, on the basis of International Law. “If there is no agreement in negotiations, which may follow the exploratory ones, the two sides will have to agree on a text of a joint statement that will be submitted to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.”
“We hope that these contacts will lead to de-escalation,” he added. “I hope that the Turkish side will come to these contacts in a similar spirit.”
Referring to a possible meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Mr. Dendias says that this will be done “when conditions allow and there is the appropriate climate that will allow such a meeting to be constructive.”
The Foreign Minister describes the recent adoption of the law on the extension of territorial waters as a “collective act of historical significance”. “Greece's borders are growing. “And they are growing up peacefully, in accordance with international law, with whatever that entails.”
He adds that “technical treatment has already begun in order to be ready to proceed with the expansion of territorial waters to other areas of the territory.”
“We reserve the inalienable right to extend our territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, wherever and whenever appropriate,” he said.
He emphasizes that the adoption of the bill took place in an atmosphere of national solidarity “proving in practice that national unity can be achieved in the face of the great security challenges facing the country. “As the prime minister said, the framework of national solidarity has expanded.”
Asked about the intention of the German side to ask NATO to take a decision on the issue of Turkey's armaments from European countries, Mr. Dendias recalled that Greece has been a member of NATO for almost seven decades, “so NATO can not make any decision without the consent of our country “.
“Turkey's conduct violates the basic principles of the North Atlantic Alliance and undermines its coherence and unity, which is essential to its credibility and effectiveness,” he said. “NATO's adherence to equal distances does not is the proper approach. It wrongs the victim of the violation of International Law and works encouragingly for the offender. “Therefore, the credibility of the Alliance vis-με-vis not only the members but also the entire international community is being undermined.”
“The only acceptable solution is the ICC”
Regarding the Cyprus issue, Mr. Dendias states that the framework for resolving it is one and well-known: “a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation based on the decisions of the UN Security Council and compatible with the European acquis”.
“In any case, informal talks at a five-day meeting convened by the UN secretary-general are not a formal negotiation,” he said.
Referring to the refugee issue, Mr. Dendias notes that “there is no question of updating or amending the joint EU-Turkey declaration of March 2016. Such a discussion would open the bag of Aeolus”, while adding that Turkey does not fulfills the obligations to which it has expressly committed itself in the Joint Declaration.
Asked about the European perspective of the Western Balkans, he points out that Greece has a “moral obligation” to actively contribute to their efforts to join the EU.
“This is in our interest,” he said. “Their accession will consolidate security, prosperity and stability in the region. At the same time, it will prevent the consolidation of revisionist and extremist influences or the attempt to revive empires that belong to the past. “
Finally, referring to the new US administration, Mr. Dendias states that he is looking forward to “a meeting with my new US counterpart Anthony Blinken to discuss the prospects of deepening bilateral cooperation, including upgrading the bilateral defense cooperation agreement (MD), ( and developments in the wider region “.
“We look forward to a more active US presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and to expanding our strategic footprint in our region. The form and time horizon of such a presence remains to be clarified. “What we also expect is that the new US administration will place particular emphasis on developing transatlantic ties and working with the European Union.”