In joint statements with visiting NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Tuesday that Greece expects “consistency and continuity” from Turkey after the de-escalation of tension that brought the two countries to the brink in the summer.
”Our country welcomes a first step from Turkey toward de-escalation. It remains to be seen whether this is an honest move or a temporary maneuver,” he said after meeting Stoltenberg, who arrived in Athens following a visit to Ankara on Monday.
Mitsotakis stressed that it is up to Turkey to “close the way to the crisis and open the way to a solution.”
The two men discussed in detail everything that has happened in recent months in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as the “events that threaten the peace, stability and cohesion of NATO itself,” according to Mitsotakis.
“It’s not a bilateral issue. It concerns all the partners in NATO and it’s a challenge to Europe as a whole,” he said, adding this challenge also concerns the interests of the US.
Mitsotakis further welcomed the 24-hour hotline between Greek and Turkish military staff and the NATO-brokered conflict prevention mechanism.
He also briefed Stoltenberg on the government’s decisions regarding the strengthening of Greece’s armed forces, while noting that it is one of the few countries that systematically – even during the crisis – spent more than 2% of its GDP on defense spending.
For his part, Stoltenberg hailed the establishment of a conflict prevention mechanism as constructive.
“The hotline is available 24 hours a day to facilitate deconfliction at sea and in the air… We stand ready to develop it further,” Stoltenberg said, adding that it will allow space for diplomatic efforts.
“It is my firm hope that the underlying disputes between the two allies can now be addressed purely through negotiations in the spirit of allied solidarity and international law,” the NATO chief said.
He also praised Greece's contribution to NATO, while commending its efforts to tackle the refugee crisis.
Greece, he said, was at the forefront of the fight to tackle the refugee crisis, and noted NATO’s solidarity with the country.