HomeGreeceMinister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ interview with “Parapolitika” newspaper and journalist...

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ interview with “Parapolitika” newspaper and journalist E. Papachlimintzos (30. 12. 2022)

JOURNALIST: You had a minor health incident yesterday. Is everything okay now?
N. DENDIAS: To begin with, our country’s position concerning Libya is clear and remains firm. We are always open to dialogue and cooperation using the government that will emerge in the country’s elections so that this particular elected government represents the actual will of the Libyan people. Unfortunately, Greece, the entire global community, and, more importantly, the Libyan people themselves, are currently confronted with a transitional federal government that, contrary to its lawful mandate and commitment, is definitely stalling the immediate keeping of elections. And, most importantly for us, it is concluding unlawful agreements with Turkey to the detriment of our country. At this time, it is worth recalling the particular United Nations’ position that the Libyan Government is not certified to sign international contracts. A position for which Greece has worked intensively within the international firm. The recent letter sent to me by High Consultant J. Borrell, in which he condemns the illegal memorandum between Turkey and the transitional government in Libya in the strongest possible terms, is also worth noting. This letter, which reaffirms the EU’s position, as already expressed by the European Council in December 2019, is a response to a letter of mine, immediately after my visit to Eastern Libya.
N. DENDIAS: I believe that today, our companions in the EU fully realize what’s at stake and condemn Ankara’s threatening rhetoric, both verbally as well as in writing, along with statements in which our neighbor’s overall stance is commented in an entirely negative way and condemned unequivocally. So far as NATO is concerned, the same applies to a large extent at the Associate State level, but it is also well-known that we would like the particular Secretary-General’s positions to be mentioned more clearly and unequivocally. Let me remind you that will in the EU report upon Turkey’s progress last October, as well as in the conclusions from the Enlargement Council a few days ago, there is, among other things, a clear mention of the overflights over Greek island destinations and direct verbal risks against Greek sovereignty. Simultaneously, one cannot overlook the sanctions imposed by the US on Turkey regarding the purchase and renewal of military products. Nor can one overlook the regular remarks by the State Section spokesperson in response to questions in regards to the Turkish provocative conduct in the direction of Greece. For our part, the particular concerted campaign to internationalize Turkish provocations is keeping fruit. This is, of course , an ongoing effort, which we will carry on in an even more intensive plus targeted manner. I have to admit, however , that in recent times, most of the time, the absolutely unacceptable statements made by Turkish officials possess rendered our work self-evident, in the sense that they do not actually require further comment.
JOURNALIST: Tayyip Erdogan continues to release threats against our nation, sometimes talking about an intrusion and other times about a missile attack. How do you assess these threats?
JOURNALIST: It’s been ten months because the beginning of the war in Ukraine and there is still simply no sign of peace. Just how can a peace process create and how should the International Community deal with Russia from now on? May our country continue to supply Ukraine with military tools?
REPORTER: Turkey is gaining a permanent foothold in Libya, undertakes hydrocarbon exploration, and co-signs a provocative letter intended for Greece to the UN. Is usually Libya a “lost” neighbor for our country? What initiatives do you intend to take?
JOURNALIST: When will certainly the special agreement along with Albania referring the issue of the delimitation of the EEZ towards the International Court of Justice in The Hague be agreed upon?
N. DENDIAS: We are neighbors with Turkey and, as is the case with all our neighbors, it is appealing that we settle our differences peacefully. Our government, the best Minister, and I have repeatedly underscored that a constructive dialogue with Turkey is always desirable, subject to a sine qua non condition: that it be conducted on the sole dispute we have, namely the delimitation of the continental shelf as well as the EEZ in the Aegean and the South-Eastern Mediterranean on the basis of regard for International Law as well as the Law of the Sea. Nevertheless , Turkey has been undermining the climate that would be required as a precondition for starting the dialogue, for a long time now, an unprecedentedly long one, producing unacceptable claims, even difficult the sovereignty of our island destinations, and engaging in a se desenvolvendo of threats against our country. By employing inconceivable and often insulting language, not only will it undermine any possibility of understanding but at the same time it toxins relations between the two individuals. At this point, and in view of the upcoming election period within Turkey, which I mentioned previously, I am not optimistic this situation can be reversed. Nevertheless , even under these circumstances, or rather because of these situations, it is important that we can speak with each other at some level, to prevent unpleasant situations. For our part, we continue to deconstruct Turkish arguments and claims steadly and soberly, without getting involved in personal attacks or characterizations, always hoping that, at some point, the other side will eventually make the “overcoming” required to arrived at an understanding on the basis of International Law and the Law of the Sea.
N. DENDIAS: From the very beginning, Greece has brought a principled stance contrary to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We condemned the invasion unequivocally and without any bookings. Because respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty, as well as refraining from the use or threat of use associated with force, are fundamental principles of International Law. They have got also been the main pillars, the “holy gospel”, as I continually emphasize, of Greek international policy against revisionism, whichever side it comes from. After all, my presence in Kyiv in the midst of the bombing, in addition to my two visits to Odessa following the Russian invasion delivered this very message. And that is why we were actively mixed up in EU’s efforts to exert pressure on Russia with the imposition of sanctions. Which is why we chose to positively support Ukraine. Political, army, economic, and humanitarian support. It is a message that I had the opportunity to deliver at the Solidarity Conference on Ukraine two weeks ago in Paris, but also during my visit to Kyiv in October, which took place in the middle of adverse security conditions. The particular principles of Greek international policy require that we keep provide support to Ukraine, within our capabilities, of course , while ensuring that our country’s prevention capacity is not affected in any way.
N. DENDIAS: Due to the change in the electoral regulation by Syriza, it becomes, certainly, more difficult for the winning party to secure an absolute majority. Therefore, it is likely that a second political election will be required. However , I actually expect that, following a 2nd election, the country will have many government of New Democracy, with a brand new four-year time horizon regarding implementing our program. And I am convinced that, within a spirit of unity on our national issues, the New Democracy government will continue, in the second term, to defend and promote our national curiosity.
JOURNALIST: Will there be an open channel of conversation between Athens and Ankara and if so , at what level? Do you have reasonable goals that a meaningful dialogue between your two sides can be re-launched and if so , on what plan?
JOURNALIST: The year 2023 is a year of national elections. Are “double polls” a one-way street? How can the country be governed after the election if the party of recent Democracy wins, but does not secure an absolute majority?
N. DENDIAS: In recent months, Greece has been facing an escalating threat from Turkey. So , it seems reasonable to ask whether this essentially constant approach to distorting reality and making unsubstantiated claims is connected to Turkey’s internal political panorama, in view of the upcoming polls in the country, or whether it is intertwined with an effort to satisfy broader geostrategic aspirations. Let me note that I find it unacceptable and unthinkable to conduct national politics by threatening to use force, especially when the threat is usually launched by one country against one of its allies. Portugal has chosen to respond to this unprecedented escalation of verbal threats with calm and determination. Threats, as I possess repeatedly underscored, do not bully us. In the face of the danger of war, we are at odds of a well-founded presentation of our own arguments, based on International Regulation and the International Law from the Sea. Issues relating to the national sovereignty are not available to discussion or questioning.   As to whether the upsurge within Turkey’s aggressive intentions is definitely linked to the upcoming elections within the neighboring country, timing certainly does play a role, but We are not sure that this is the just reason. Therefore , as all of the moves on the part of Greece show, we are far from being satisfied.
N. DENDIAS: Thank God, it turned out to be nothing serious. It was a good episode of orthostatic hypotension, caused by my insistence, regardless of the Holy Monastery of Xenophon’s holy abbot Alexios’ admonition to the contrary, on remaining standing during the entire Divine Liturgy at dawn, after a busy schedule. What saddens me though is that I did not complete my trip to the other two Holy Monasteries as I had planned. But I really hope to do so soon. What issues most, however , is not this little “adventure”, but the undeniable fact that, during my visit, I found out for myself that Mount Athos is an ark of Orthodoxy, which the government is determined to support. At a time of upheaval within our wider region and in Far eastern Europe, the geopolitical significance of supporting Mount Athos will be evident.
JOURNALIST: How do you feel about our EU and NATO partners’ and allies’ position towards Ankara’s behavior?
N. DENDIAS: The agenda of the meeting with my Albanian equal a few days ago was considerable: Bilateral relations, cooperation within areas such as energy, that has gained new importance plus momentum after the war within Ukraine, and, of course , the issue pending in our bilateral relations, the delimitation of maritime zones. During the meeting, it was established that there is a common will to move forwards with negotiations, within the platform of the political agreement which has been reached in principle, in order to refer the issue to The Hague, by signing a special contract. We believe that we are approaching signing the relevant special contract (on the delimitation of maritime zones). In a spirit of cooperation with the Albanian government, this issue can and will also be resolved. Furthermore, as Excellent Minister Mitsotakis stated, Portugal has proven that it looks for to resolve such pending problems in accordance with the International Law and this is what we will fag this case as well. What we are saying to our Albanian neighbours is, firstly, that relations between the two peoples, the Greek and the Albanian, are really important because they are based on our own long-standing coexistence. And second, that Albania has selected Europe – and appropriately so – and its Euro path, which we assistance, passes through Athens and good neighbourly relations with Greece.
JOURNALIST: Alexis Tsipras has stated that our country should immediately continue with the extension of its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in the Eastern Mediterranean. What is the government’s plan regarding the extension of its territorial oceans to 12 nautical kilometers?
N. DENDIAS: The extension of the territorial oceans to 12 nautical kilometers is a unilateral, inalienable, non-negotiable right of our country, coming from the United Nations Convention around the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It is a right that exists in perpetuity, and it is as much as each government to decide when, where, and how to exercise it, with the sole aim of defending our national interest.


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