Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on Turkey to “stop the provocations” in the Eastern Mediterranean, during an interview on CNN with Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday evening.
“My message to Turkey is very simple: stop the provocations and let’s start talking as civilised neighbours,” Mitsotakis stated, adding that the only disagreement with Turkey is the delimitation of maritime zones.
“What we’ve told Turkey very openly is that we should sit and discuss as civilised neighbours,” and if the issue cannot be resolved between the two, “then we can always take it to the international court,” he added.
Η Τουρκία θα πρέπει να γνωρίζει ότι αν δεν αλλάξει στάση θα υπάρξουν συνέπειες και θα τεθεί σε κίνδυνο η συνολική της σχέση με την Ευρώπη. Διότι προκλήσεις αυτού του είδους δεν είναι δυνατόν να μένουν αναπάντητες. Συνέντευξη στο CNN και στην @camanpour. https://t.co/cWX1bd7N4N pic.twitter.com/VHetrwue3k
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) August 19, 2020
The PM stressed that Greece “cannot tolerate is unilateral activity by Turkey,” which challenges Greece’s EEZ “by sending not just an exploration ship but also a significant number of military vessels to the area. Greece has never escalated tension first.”
Turkey is behaving in a manner that does not accord with international law, he said, especially towards a fellow NATO member. “If Turkey considers these areas to be disputed and we consider them to be part of the Greek EEZ, they should sit down with us and discuss about it. This is what we have always proposed. What we cannot accept is a fait accompli as a result of Turkish provocation,” he continued.
This issue, Mitsotakis further said was not a Greek-Turkish one. “I don’t think this is a disagreement between two neighbours. I think this is a challenge for Europe, it’s a challenge for the world,” he stressed.
Mitsotakis also said that the neighbouring country should know that if it continues its unilateral path, it will damage its relationship with the EU, and there will be consequences.
The Greek PM also referred to the recent agreement with Egypt for the demarcation of exclusive economic zones, saying it could “serve as a blueprint” for other agreements in the region. “But this cannot happen if we are engaged in sabre-rattling and if we have to face now and then half the Turkish fleet sailing in the Aegean or the eastern Mediterranean,” he continued.
When asked about the New York Times article claiming that the Greek Coast Guard had abandoned migrants at sea, he said that Greece had been a victim of a misinformation campaign. This is part of Turkey’s efforts to “weaponise the migration issue,” he pointed out, as Europe saw at the Evros borders between the two countries. It also insults the Greek Coast Guard, which has saved tens of thousands of lives in the sea and the Greek islands that took so many migrants in.
“Greece is a country that respects international rules. We have granted asylum to tens of thousands of people and helped them integrate in Greek society. We are working with Europe on a new pact on immigration and refugees. We want the Europeans to be our partners in this effort. We do not want to be left alone in managing this problem. We are the first country to organise returns of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected, in tandem with the International Migration Organisation. We have a comprehensive migration/refugee strategy, which at its premise has the need to protect both our land and sea borders,” he concluded.