Turkey’s reaction to the legal agreement between Greece and Egypt on establishing an exclusive economic zone shows that the neighboring country “cannot come to terms with the European principles of the 21st century and remains stuck in the logic of using force and threats,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised public message on Wednesday on the escalation of tension in the East Mediterranean.
“Greece is not a country to threaten others or to accept being blackmailed,” but remains vigilant, deploys its armed forces, and resorts to diplomacy to resolve issues, he noted. It will not initiate tension, but will respond to any challenge.
Under a principled policy, Greece negotiated and signed the agreements delineating its maritime zones with Italy and Egypt, he said, “agreements that show that when there is goodwill and a sense of trust, long-standing difference can be finally resolved.” These kinds of agreements guarantee progress and prosperity of peoples, “always within the framework of International Law.”
It is under this framework that Greece is willing to confidently discuss issues with all its neighbors, without fear of a difficult negotiation, “because we believe in the righteousness of our positions. But talks under a climate of challenges and tension are obviously without purpose,” the premier said.
Turkey’s professed interest in talks is just an excuse, while it uses a legal agreement of one country with another – such as between Greece and Egypt – to withdraw from exploratory talks before they even begin. This, he said, is true “especially when Turkey signed with the Tripoli government in Libya a groundless and illegal memorandum, and when it uses repeated challenges to test the patience of Greece and Europe.”
Mitsotakis said that Greece would retain its cool-headedness but along with its political and operational readiness has also mobilized diplomacy. “We brief friendly countries and public opinion, and we mobilize allies and partners,” he underlined.
The immediate acceptance of a Greek request for an extraordinary meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Turkish behavior in the East Mediterranean “confirms that the issue is not just about Greek-Turkish relations, but about European relations with Turkey,” he said.
He concluded by saying that Greece is a member of the EU family and a source of stability in the region which conforms to International Law and good neighborliness rules. “We seek bridges of peace, good faith and cooperation with all,” the Greek premier noted, and expressed the hope that Turkey would come to the table for talks with goodwill on the one difference between the two countries, that of delineating the maritime zones in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean.
Contacts w/ other leaders
PM Mitsotakis spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, to discuss developments in the East Mediterranean and Turkish aggression, as part of diplomatic efforts over the issue.
Later the PM also spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.