Athens wants open channels with Turkey, but remains prepared

Athens wants open channels with Turkey, but remains prepared

Greece’s message to Turkey that channels of communication must remain open but that Athens is also prepared to defend its national interests was the theme that pervaded Wednesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Nikos Dendias and Nikos Panagiotopoulos, according to a government source.

The discussion between the three men, which took place in the wake of a recent exchange of demarches between Greece and Turkey regarding the Evros River border region, focused on the fact that although there has been no actual progress regarding their differences, there has been a relative de-escalation of tension.

In particular, there has been a decrease in airspace violations compared to previous weeks, while migration flows from Turkey have been reduced to a minimum. 

What’s more, the source also referred to the statement by Turkish Ambassador to Athens Burak Ozugergin, who described the recent border situation that arose in the southern part of the Evros, due to a change in the position of the riverbed, as a technical issue that is perfectly normal for neighbors with common land borders. “This is not an issue. Let’s not turn it into an issue,” the ambassador said.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis stressed that Greece intends to press on with plans to extend its fence on the Greek-Turkish border in Evros to prevent a mass influx of undocumented migrants trying to reach the European Union. 

“The fence will be built in defense of our country’s interests,” the minister said during a visit to the area.

Referring to the decision to strengthen Greece’s border forces with riot units and officers from other services, the minister pointed out that this was deemed necessary as the planned recruitment of 400 border guards had been delayed due to the pandemic.

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