With the Turkish Oruc Reis research vessel in the Greek continental shelf and the fleets of both countries in a tense standoff, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a twofold message to Turkey on Wednesday stating that Greece is willing to have an honest dialogue, but will not back way from any challenge.
“No challenge will go unanswered. We have proved it in practice. And we will prove it again if necessary,” he said in a televised address on Wednesday evening.
Mistotakis noted that just as Greece signed agreements with Italy and Egypt, it is ready “in the same framework of legality, with confidence and without discounts, to talk to all our neighbors.”
“We are not afraid of dialogue, even the most difficult ones, because we have faith in the legality of our positions,” he said, adding, however, that a dialogue cannot take place amid provocations and a climate of tension.
He said Turkey’s muscle flexing is a sign of a dearth of legal arguments.
“Turkey’s militarization of the situation is also an admission of the absence of legally strong positions,” he said, noting that this proves its weakness in matters of law. He stressed that in response to Turkey’s deployment of its fleet in the region near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, “we also deployed our own, placing our armed forces on alert.”
He warned that the concentration of a large number of fleet vessels in such a limited area inevitably creates the “risk of an accident.”
He also referred extensively to Greece’s moves on the diplomatic chessboard, as reflected in Friday’s teleconference of the EU foreign ministers, while warning Turkey of sanctions if it continues on the same path.
“We are not alone in this effort,” he said. “The European Union’s immediate response to our request to convene the Foreign Affairs Council confirms that the issue concerns not only Greek-Turkish relations, but also the relations of the whole of Europe with Turkey.”
The only road Turkey opens up before it with its continued aggression is that of powerful sanctions, he noted.
“We firmly hope that logic will finally prevail in our neighboring country, so that a dialogue in good will can begin,” he stressed, while also accusing Turkey of pursuing foreign policy “with propaganda photos from nonexistent seismic surveys.”