Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis appealed to Turkey to find a diplomatic solution to the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, in a pre-recorded address to the 75th United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
During his speech, he mentioned the main challenges facing the global community- migration, climate change, the pandemic and Greece’s relations with Turkey- “demand action today, not discussion tomorrow.”
Despite the current difficult circumstances, Mitsotakis added, “we are more united than ever, more connected through the power of innovation, sharing an unprecedented determination to work together to improve the global family of our nations.”
Expressing his regret that the circumstances does not allow the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, the Greek PM stressed how the world has changed dramatically since the last meeting of the world leaders. He added: “this year is not only the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, but also the 2500th anniversary of Greece’s victory in the naval battle of Salamis. A victory that helped pave the way for the founding of Classical Greece and the birth of Democracy and the Rule of Law. And today, the values and principles at the core of the United Nations are based on Democracy and the Rule of Law”.
Mitsotakis also referred to the great changes wrought by the pandemic: “Since the last time we met, the world has changed dramatically. The Covid-19 pandemic has raised questions regarding globalisation…questions that we never imagined we will have to face nor yet to answer. How do we live, how do we work, how do we interact…” He noted that the pandemic had created a “new normality” of masks and minimal physical contact but that this should not be allowed to dictate a new world, since digital technology allowed the world to be more connected than ever.
“If, as now seems possible, we can develop complex vaccines in just one year or maybe 18 months, why can we not work together to solve some of the other great global challenges of our time,” he said. “If Covid has taught us anything, it is that we do not have the luxury to wait for the next crisis before we take preventative action,” he added.
Defying all expectations, Greece had been extraordinarily successful in handling the first wave of the pandemic, he added, expressing confidence that it will similarly succeed in tackling the second wave as well.
However the big geopolitical challenge Greece faces Mitsotakis stressed, has to do with Turkey as they undermine international law and threaten security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. “At the General Assembly last year, I expressed my intention to extend a hand of friendship and cooperation to President Erdogan. I even spoke about my willingness for Greece to act as a bridge that will help Turkey reach Europe. Unfortunately, despite Greece placing trust, dialogue and understanding at the heart of a values-based foreign policy, Turkey has responded with escalation, provocation, misinformation and aggression. While Greece has chosen the path of dialogue in good faith, Turkey has chosen the path of intransigence.”
He added that the EU has made it absolutely clear that unilateral actions will not go unanswered when they threaten the sovereign rights of its member-states.
Democracy and rule of law underpin the values and principles at the heart of the United Nations. The challenges we face in 2020 may be different from those of the post-war years, but in many respects, they are just as significant, just as momentous. #UNGA https://t.co/8FvQYoE0ww
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) September 25, 2020
However, the Greek Prime Minister expressed his optimism, noting that: “Everyone understands that this constant escalation of tension can not continue. And I refuse to believe that partnership between near neighbours is not possible. Look at the recent agreements struck between Israel and the UAE. Both friends with Greece, now friends with each other. Years of suspicion and animosity have been replaced by a cooperation and mutual understanding. So let us meet, let us talk and let us seek a mutually acceptable solution. Let’s give diplomacy a chance. If, after all, we still can not agree, then we must trust the wisdom of the International Court of the Hague.”
“The beginning of exploratory contacts between our two countries, which was announced two days ago, is a step in the right direction. If President Erdoğan really believes the United Nations stands as a beacon of hope and a stronghold of global cooperation, then I would urge him to act in accordance with these values,” Mitsotakis stated in his closing remarks.