Dendias welcomes de-escalation in East Med without directly referring to Turkey

Dendias welcomes de-escalation in East Med without directly referring to Turkey

Greece’s newly appointed defense minister has welcomed a de-escalation of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, expressing hope this would lead to a “climate of trust” without directly referring to Turkey.

But Nikos Dendias said that trust must be built on the UN charter and on respect for the rule of law on land and at sea with the “absolute condemnation for the threat of the use of force.”

Dendias, a former foreign minister, made the remarks after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Michalis Georgallas during his first overseas visit following the reelection of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Although Dendias’ remarks were clearly referring to Turkey, the top diplomat didn’t mention the country by name, ostensibly in hopes of encouraging reelected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to engage in dialogue with Athens and Cyprus on a host of issues that continue to be a source of friction between the neighbors.

Dendias’ visit came two days after a visit to Cyprus by his successor at the Foreign Ministry, Giorgos Gerapetritis, who said that Greece is ready to start talks with Turkey to resolve a long-standing dispute over maritime borders that has brought the two countries to the brink of armed conflict.

Dendias repeated that Greece strongly opposes the view of Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriots that a peace deal for ethnically divided Cyprus must be based on recognition of two separate states, in contravention of UN resolutions calling for a federation made up of Greek- and Turkish- speaking sectors.

Cyprus was split in 1974 following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes Turkish Cypriot independence in the island’s northern third and maintains more than 35,000 troops there.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said that bolstering Cyprus’ deterrent capabilities is among his new government’s priorities. [AP]

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