The message of the 1821 revolution is timeless and shows that when Greeks are united, they can achieve the impossible, even when striving against overwhelming odds, Foreign Minister George Katrougalos said, speaking during events marking the March 25 anniversary of Greece’s War of Independence in Kalamata.
The struggle for the nation’s rights is now continuing under much better conditions, he added: “After the memorandums we have fully regained our national sovereignty and are not only a stable democracy but exporters of stability.”
The country’s new and enhanced diplomatic prestige, along with the alliances that Greece was forming, were capable of “neutralising any show of force from any revisionary power and to impose international law as the only framework for our bilateral and multilateral relations,” he said.
Regarding Greece’s relations with Turkey, the foreign minister again sent a message that these were defined by international law and the Law of the Sea, which formed an inseparable part of it. “We are seeking to resume dialogue with [Turkey] not for joint exploitation, as is very frivolously being reported, but to begin exploratory talks for delineating our continental shelf,” he said.
Regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, Katrougalos said that in order for Turkey to become “part of the energy equation,” it must first respect international law, the Law of the Sea and also recognise Cyprus’ inalienable right to its wealth-producing resources.
“All these are fixed national positions. No one must either change or distort them,” he added.
Asked about the island of Kastellorizo, Katrougalos indicated that this had a continental shelf, like all the islands of the Aegean, and that “any other discussion is misleading”.
“It forms an organic entity with the rest of the Dodecanese islands, a single space that faces the Turkish shores. The Law of the Sea is clear on this point and there is no room for counter-argument,” the minister said, adding that the island’s position “has no importance regarding the impact of the continental shelf.”
Commenting on a statement made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday about possibly convering Aghia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, Katrougalos noted that Aghia Sophia had for centuries been the largest Christian church in existence and was recognised as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.
“Any dispute of this status is not only an offence to Christian feelings, it is an insult to the international community and international law. We want to hope that the correct statements made by the Turkish leadership on March 16 will apply and that there will be no change to its status.”