Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, referred to the coronavirus pandemic, the EU recovery fund and Greek-Turkish relations during the 2020 Aspen Security Forum.
During the Aspen Security Forum, international leaders address critical questions about national security and foreign policy.
In particular regarding Greek-Turkish relations, Mitsotakis pointed out that Turkey’s stance is not only a Greek problem but also a European one, and stressed that if the situation leads to a deadlock, the two countries can appeal to the Hague Tribunal.
“We also made it clear during the recent incident, when Turkey issued a NAVTEX threatening to carry out seismic research within the Greek Economic Exclusive Zone, that we will not accept this. The good thing is that no vessel arrived, something that I take as a positive sign, because as long as we are talking – if we genuinely want to talk – we can’t undermine the essence of the deliberations, which is how we can resolve the problem with the EEZ. Additionally, I was very clear to the international community, saying that if we do not reach an agreement, let’s go the The Hague and respect the court’s ruling,” the Prime Minister said.
He also noted that he has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan twice since assuming office: “At our first meeting, I sincerely said to him that we should attempt a restart of Greek-Turkish relations because we will be neighbours forever. I truly believe there is no hostility, despite the various stereotypes, between the Greek and the Turkish people. Unfortunately, I did not receive the response I expected.”
Mitsotakis said that Athens is willing to resume talks with Turkey but not while under threat, and that Greece could not be blackmailed into negotiating because Turkey was threatening its sovereign rights.
On the covid-19 pandemic, speaking with Harvard University Professor and executive director of the forum Nicholas Burns, the Greek PM noted “we must be careful now and not become victims of our own success due to complacency.”
He also said that the use of face masks is now important because Greece can’t go back to a lockdown, while noting that “the sectors of entertainment, travel and tourism were significantly stricken and in these sectors recovery will be a long-term matter.”
Referring to relations with NATO, Mitsotakis said that a policy of equal distances regarding Turkey was no longer acceptable to Athens: “It is now very clear in NATO, I think, that this neutral stance – that we are dealing with two NATO members (Greece and Turkey) and cannot intervene – is not acceptable to me anymore. I put this to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, namely that we are contributing to NATO, we are an ally and have the expectation that when another NATO ally is behaving in a way that jeopardises our interests, NATO should not adopt this stance of equal distances and non-intervention in internal differences. It is deeply unfair to Greece.”