“At the recent summit we offered a very clear choice to Turkey, but unfortunately it seems that Ankara is choosing the path that leads to sanctions,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during his discussions with visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Welcoming Maas to Athens, Mitsotakis noted that his visit comes during “challenging times”.
Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis entered the Greek continental shelf on Tuesday.
“Obviously we will not talk under these circumstances. We offered Turkey a very clear choice at the recent Summit: A renewed partnership or consequences in the event that aggressive behaviour continues. And it seems that Turkey has chosen the second path,” the PM said.
He also referenced the conclusions from the European Council summit in Brussels that occurred two weeks ago. “In the event of renewed unilateral action or challenge in breach of international law, the EU will use all the means and options at its disposal, including in accordance with Article 29 of the TEU [Treaty on European Union] and Article 215 TFEU [Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union], in order to defend its interests and the interests of its Member States,” referring to sanctions, although the word is not mentioned.
Mitsotakis emphasised that Greece had agreed to start exploratory contacts from where they had stopped in 2016, with the sole issue of delimiting the maritime zones.
On his part, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed that Turkey’s provocative stance is completely contrary to the spirit of what was agreed upon.
“That is why I have a lot of understanding of the fact that in Greece there is not just annoyance, but irritation. It is not the first time that the path that was set was interrupted through Turkish provocations”, he said.
“It is now up to Turkey to create those conditions and the atmosphere so that in the end there is the possibility of conducting exploratory talks without further provocations,” he added.
Meanwhile Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias stated that no exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey can take place while the Turkish research ship Oruç Reis remains within the Greek continental shelf.
His comments were made during a joint press conference with his visiting Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne.
“Following yesterday’s new, illegal Navtex for research just 6.5 miles from our shores, Turkey’s leadership has proven it’s not a reliable interlocutor. Instead of dialogue, instead of exploratory talks they had committed to propose dates for, they again chose escalation and the direct threat against peace and security in the area.”
Speaking of a long-term friendship between Greece and Canada, based on common values and respect of democracy, among others, Dendias conveyed the appreciation of the Greek government for Canada’s decision to welcome for relocation 50 families of vulnerable asylum applicants. He also conveyed his condolences for the loss of life of the crew of a Canadian helicopter that crashed in the Ionian Sea while on a NATO operation.
On his part, Champagne expressed Canada’s interest in serving as mediator between Greece and Turkey.
The visiting official also noted that Canada is already the largest non-EU investor in Greece; additionally, he cited examples of Canadian companies working in Greece, as in the metallurgical sector. Both countries are examining further collaboration opportunities, he said, promoting green economy and electromobility.
Canada, he noted, wants to become “the best transatlantic partner you have.” Greece is a stable country and a state of law and order, and these aspects provide a guarantee for further collaboration, Champagne added.