Greece needs to be cautious and not jump to any hasty conclusions regarding Washington’s announcement that Turkey has agreed to a five-day ceasefire in northern Syria to allow the withdrawal of Kurdish troops, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Thursday night.
“Obviously this is better than more human lives being lost, military operations, refugees and another conflict in the area, but as to what it means, it is still too soon to tell. We need to let the dust settle first to see how the situation will develop,” Dendias told Skai TV.
With regards to Turkish violations in the Aegean and Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, Dendias said that Greece has an duty to continue seeking channels of communication with Ankara, but nevertheless has red lines it will not cross. “We will always do what needs to be done,” he said. “But we will not roar and shout. We will explain, frankly, to the Turkish side what out interests are, how the international law stands from our side, what our red lines are.”
He stressed that Greece should not be regarded as a small and weak country on the sidelines of events, but as a country with significant powers that sees Turkey as an equal. “We look at Turkey in the eye, frankly, with respect and with sincere wishes that it does well, that one day it succeeds in its European aspiration, that its citizens enjoy all the same rights as those enjoyed by European citizens… I wish all this for Turkey,” Dendias said. “We can improve the potential, we can deepen cooperation, but we are still a country that has accomplished a lot of important things.”
The Greek foreign minister said that any effort to “militarize the crises” with Turkey would be “naive” and “foolish,” adding that there are times when Ankara appears to be trying to provoke just such a reaction. The result, he said, is that “our allies and friends, in Europe and the United States, see us both as the troublemakers of the southeastern Aegean that both need to be kept at arm’s length.”
“It would be enormously foolish to be lured into an escalation, to leave solid ground and sail into a sea that leads nowhere,” said Dendias.
He added that the defense cooperation agreement signed earlier this month between Greece and the United States will also have a stabilizing effect in the region.