Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, in an interview with To Vima, discussed Germany and sanctions, illegal immigration and even the situation across the Mediterranean in Libya.
Germany and sanctions
Dendias conveys an image of calmness. Undoubtedly, such a debate could only start with the recent European Council Summit, at which Athens sought harsh condemnation of Turkey and possible sanctions.
“The reality is that we would like better results from the Summit,” he admitted.
“On the other hand,” he added, “given the presidency of the Council and its perception, one could not realistically expect more.”
The role and fear of the Immigrant
The Foreign Minister believes that the German political system and German society are aware of Turkish aggression and Turkish absurdity on certain issues.
However, “there is a big issue with the current German government regarding Immigration.”
“What happened in 2015 has acted as a trauma,” he explained, “and any risk associated with it is magnified too much in their eyes.”
“I also appreciate”, he continued, “that they move with stereotypes such as ‘Erdogan will not be there forever. So let’s put up with what is happening today in view of a better future that will come’.”
“This is, one might say, a metaphysical political approach of the Germans,” he explained.
The change in Turkish society
For Dendias, “the Europeans themselves have not made a firm decision on the course we want in European-Turkish relations.
According to the Foreign Minister, “the choice of Greece in the 1990s to seek to resolve disputes through the accession framework was brave. Today, of course, Turkey deviates and this specific historical project failed.”
“If we were talking in terms of probability, 90% leads to the conclusion that Turkey will continue to diverge and 10% to re-converge. I would not throw away this 10%. And we must realize that choosing 90% involves a risk: a special relationship,” he said.
“This could allow Turkey access to the European market and not impose on it the obligations necessary for the rule of law and human rights that we need. We are,” he added, “almost historically obliged to pursue a change in Turkish society towards Europe.”
“Otherwise, we must move towards a fortified European logic. That will not be pleasant,” he warned.
No enlargement of the agenda
Athens expects a date from Ankara, but the latter probably wants to be sure that it will not receive a refusal.
“Greece wants talks to resume from where they left off, with Turkish fault that it ended in March 2016. With the constant invocation of the request for demilitarization of the islands, Ankara seems to want to expand the agenda in advance,” he said.
“This will not be accepted,” he clarified.
When asked if other countries, such as Germany, support the idea of expanding the agenda, he said:
“Not in private. I think everyone understands, although inwardly they may think otherwise, that if this bag is opened, it will not close again,.”
The role of the defense agreement with the US
Dendias also estimates that the recent announcement of US sanctions against Turkey will affect the current balance.
He considers that with the amendment of the Greek-American Defense Agreement (MDCA) in 2019 “Greece provided the USA with a basis to proceed with such a step, as it offered the luxury of disengagement from the geopolitical hostage of Turkey.”
The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of the intervention of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the last meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers.
As Dendias explained, Athens is already in contact for a review of the MDCA body, with the expansion of the American military footprint, but “we have to see what are the ambitions of the new American government.”
Greece claims an expanded role in the Balkans, both for geostrategic reasons and for the development of the Greek economy.
“Our geopolitical consideration is stability and security,” Dendias said.
The two main goals in Libya
The Eastern Mediterranean basin absorbed most of Dendias’ energy almost from the beginning – most importantly the signing of the Turkish-Libyan Maritime Memorandum in November 2019.
“In Libya we did not have many options when we came to power,” he said.
“Our first concern was to ensure that the Libyan coast opposite Crete would be controlled by friendly forces. There are two main goals: to prevent a Turkish base and to overturn the Saraj governments decision, such as the Turkish-Libyan Memorandum.”