Greece says dialog with Turkey important, but not 'at gunpoint'
Iran Press TV
Thursday, 10 September 2020 10:26 AM
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says dialog with Turkey over sea boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean is "important" provided that it is held on peaceful terms, not "at gunpoint."
The Greek prime minister made the remarks in an article published simultaneously in the London Times, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and France's Le Monde on Thursday.
"We do need dialogue, but not when held at gunpoint. What threatens my country's security and stability threatens the well-being and safety of all EU member states," Mitsotakis said in the piece.
He also urged the European Union (EU) to impose "meaningful" sanctions on Turkey unless Ankara pulled its maritime assets from disputed areas in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey and Greece, both of them NATO members, have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has dispatched a seismic research vessel – and warships to escort it – to an area in the sea that is disputed with Greece.
Greece, for its part, has ordered its naval vessels to shadow the Turkish ships. Earlier, one Greek and one Turkish naval vessel were involved in a minor collision.
This month, the leaders of the EU member states are expected to specify a response to Turkey.
"If Europe wants to exercise true geopolitical power, it simply cannot afford to appease a belligerent Turkey," Mitsotakis wrote, noting that Ankara still had time to avoid sanctions and "take a step back."
He said Turkey should stand down, "return to the table, and pick up from where they left off when they quit exploratory talks in 2016. And if we cannot agree, then we must seek resolution at [the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in] The Hague."
Germany, meanwhile, has been mediating to defuse the growing tensions between Turkey and Greece.
Turkey has said it is open to dialog but has stressed that negotiations should start without pre-conditions.
On Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, discussed the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean over the phone, Turkey's Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Akar said that Ankara did not favor a deadlock but instead wanted to eliminate the current problems through dialog, adding that other countries had to approach the issue with "common sense and spirit of the [NATO] alliance."
The Turkish minister, however, said that Ankara would never allow any fait accompli and would continue to safeguard its rights under international law.
Reports on Wednesday said that Athens would submit a set of proposals for the establishment of a mechanism to help defuse the increasing tensions with Ankara to NATO on Thursday.
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