Dendias: We must not refuse the hand of reconciliation extended by Turkey

"Greece has an absolute obligation to pass through the door opened by Turkey"

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"Turkish delinquency has turned into something non-existent", says Nikos Dendias clearly, revealing that Recep Tayyip Erdogan "is extending a hand of understanding towards Greece". The foreign minister emphasizes that "Turkey is not naive" and speaks of a "window of opportunity" to resolve the issues concerning the two countries in the new environment created after the earthquakes in the neighboring country.

"Greece has an absolute obligation to pass through the door that Turkey opened", underlines Mr. Dendias in his interview with "THEMA", speaking of the need for a constructive dialogue and "new perspectives for auspicious course" of Greek-Turkish relations "in the near future but also in the long term". The head of Greek diplomacy responds to those who accuse him that by choosing to support the Turkish candidacy for the general secretariat of the IMO, Greece loses and decodes the importance of Turkish support for the Greek candidacy for the Security Council.

The position of Nikos Dendias regarding the fatal accident in Tempi is of great importance, since it is the first time that the Minister of Foreign Affairs speaks about the tragedy that "causes us all to be crushed" and the "anger of society". To the complaints of members of the Council of Ministers that Mr. Dendias - although by far the most popular minister - did not help... to get the chestnuts out of the fire, he replies that his role is not "to fight on the television windows against the toxicity of SYRIZA" and unleashes poisonous arrows against his "enemies" noting: "Obviously I have supported the government since day one, this party is my home, I have served it since my student years." The foreign minister's reference to the possibility of the ND not achieving self-sufficiency will also cause discussion. and the possible post-election partnerships.

- Greek-Turkish relations resemble a roller coaster. What has changed since 2021, when with what you said in Ankara you took the lead in the unyielding defense of national sovereign rights, until Monday, March 20, when you met with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Turkey announced that it supports the Greek candidacy for the Security Council and you agreed to restart the bilateral relations?

The parameters of Turkish behavior towards us have changed. Immediately after the tragedy of the earthquakes in Turkey and my visit there, Turkish criminality has turned into something non-existent. There are no violations in the Aegean, no overflights, no toxic language, no verbal aggression, no threat of violence. Greece has always said that it seeks dialogue under exactly these conditions. So we must, we have an obligation, if you will, to respond to such Turkish behavior.

Many are expressing the thought that this will not last. I can't know that, but imagine how bad it would be if Turkey extends a hand of understanding to Greece, and Greece refuses it, that is, if it follows what it has been saying until now. And you will allow me to tell you the following and I thank you for giving me this opportunity: Turkish support for the Greek candidacy for the Security Council has enormous symbolism. Why; Because the United Nations Security Council is the closest thing humanity has to a world government, and it is precisely the guardian of the United Nations Charter and International Law.

Turkish support therefore involves a symbolism that cannot be ignored. The Greek support for the candidacy of the Turks for the general secretariat of the IMO, a position that Greece also held with an excellent general secretary, Admiral Efthymis Mitropoulos, regarding the general secretariat of an organization in which we also participate in the Board of Directors. It's something completely different.

I am not saying that we dropped Turkey or that we took more than we gave it. It is obvious that Turkey chose this symbolism in this particular situation; it chose it, it is not naive. But you understand what this symbolism signifies if - I am fully aware of the difficulties - Turkey chooses to continue operating on the basis of this framework that its current actions show and what this will mean for the peoples and societies of the two countries. So, in conclusion, I say that there was a window of opportunity here. Greece had an absolute obligation to pass through this door that Turkey opened. Now whether this will have a happy ending or is just a passing phenomenon, only time can tell. However, it would be unforgivable for the Greek side not to attempt to take advantage of this change.

– The goal of the new relationship of mutual trust with Turkey is "calm waters" until the elections in the two countries, or can we expect a resolution of the only dispute regarding the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean?

The desire and goal of Greece is the delimitation of the continental shelf and EEZ with all neighboring countries, on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea. We did it with Italy and Egypt, we launched it with Albania. We want to continue the relevant dialogue with Libya, after the formation of a democratically elected government in that country. And obviously we want to do it with Turkey as well, through a constructive dialogue, which, I repeat, should be conducted on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea. I really hope that the climate of solidarity that has recently developed between the two societies will contribute in this direction. Of course, it is still too early to draw firm conclusions as to whether this will happen. However, in any case, what has been achieved between the two countries in recent times has its own value, especially when we consider where we were just a few weeks ago. So we must continue to work to maintain this climate.

– Is it preferable to negotiate directly with Turkey on the burning issues between the two countries, or do you consider the mediation of friends and allies to appease Turkish expansionism to be more effective? What is your conclusion after four years as head of Greek diplomacy?

Each country and each government is responsible for solving the issues that concern them. And the consultation with Turkey has always been beneficial for Greece - after all, for this purpose the exploratory contacts between the two countries were carried out. However, as we have made clear many times, these contacts and any discussion must take place within a strict framework governed by International Law and the Law of the Sea.

Beyond that, Greece, in recent years, has managed to make Greek-Turkish relations part of Euro-Turkish relations, and this offers us a wider framework for activity. At the same time, we have formed a network of relations and alliances with states in the wider region - states with which we share common views - which, in my opinion, provides us with further guarantees for dealing with the issues of the region. In conclusion, I would tell you that, acting together with a wide range of states, we are co-shaping an environment of security and stability, simultaneously strengthening the country's position and increasing its geopolitical footprint. It would be important for Turkey to join this circle as well.

– In Greek-Turkish, many will argue that "we shouldn't always be on the sidelines" waiting for the barbarians, but you, as Foreign Minister, are you convinced of the sincerity of Turkish intentions or do you maintain suspicion that it may be Erdogan's tactics? Have you received guarantees from Ankara that the next friction issue in the Aegean will not trigger a sequence of events that will again lead to threats of a Turkish missile attack on the Greek capital?

As I told you, after the earthquakes in Turkey, we are now experiencing a completely different reality. The Joint Declaration of Greece - Turkey after the 4th Positive Agenda Meeting, which took place in Ankara on March 22, reflects this new reality. As well as my recent meeting with my Turkish counterpart M. Cavusoglu in Brussels. I would like to emphasize again that the Greek government, the Mitsotakis government, is fully aware of the difficulties in Greek-Turkish relations, as I also mentioned above. For this reason, we expect that Turkey will respond consistently and in good faith in relation to the new perspectives that appear, for an auspicious course in our bilateral relations not only in the near future, but also in the long term.

– What is your response to the criticism that the support of the Turkish candidacy for the International Maritime Organization is falsely generous, given that Ankara does not accept the International Law of the Sea and has closed its ports to ships flying the flag of the Republic of Cyprus?

I would tell you that in every important decision in our foreign policy, in almost every agreement that Greece makes, such as the agreements with Italy, Egypt, France, the UAE, Albania, there are some who claim that "we have lost" . In international relations, things don't work that way. In fact, this is an understanding with a particularly positive sign. I believe that it is undoubtedly a step which contributes to the creation of a milder climate, which is necessary to normalize our relations to some extent. Whether there will be a sequel depends largely on the further moves of the Turkish side.

– Do you agree with the opinion that it is useful for a government to have ministers with great popularity, who must at the critical moment pull the chestnuts out of the fire?

As far as I am concerned, the prime minister honored me with the portfolio of a ministry that has a clear institutional role: the defense of national interests on the basis of national consensus, which the Mitsotakis government has largely achieved, at a critical juncture - despite the fierce political confrontation on all other issues - and of which I am proud.

I have obviously supported the government since the first day I assumed office, in a terribly complicated environment in the country's international relations, with the specific activity that everyone knows: with the expansion of our alliances, with the important agreements that I signed, with the the expansion of territorial waters in the Ionian Sea, the demarcation of the EEZ with Egypt, the huge upgrade of the country's international role, our presence on all continents. The role of the foreign minister is not to fight on the television windows against the toxicity of SYRIZA, for a tragedy that should cause us all to be crushed. My institutional role requires few and measured words. In any case, this faction is my home, I have served it since my student years and I have learned to always do what is nationally useful.

– The tragedy of Tempe brought to the fore pathogens that must be dealt with. The reform of the deep state of the State will be the pre-election narrative of the ND. to conquer the first place?

I would not raise the issue of necessary reforms as a pre-election agenda. I would describe them as a national service. We owe it - and in memory of the people who lost their lives in the accident - to listen to the anger of society and for the country to finally acquire a modern railway. The government has already committed itself in this direction and has announced a series of measures. The reform of the "deep state", as you call it, must undoubtedly continue so that, among other things, it does not act as a brake on economic and social development.

But we should recognize that the times of profound anti-statism and deification of denationalizations are over. The COVID crisis has taught us a lot. We must also seriously address the problems caused and continue to cause consumers, especially the economically weak, by successive price increases due to exogenous crises and speculative tendencies.

As we have to deal with the prevention of the creation of a new wave of bad loans, which obviously will not be solved by the constant harassment of borrowers by debt collection companies, an issue which, by the way, must be addressed. The changes in the extrajudicial mechanism are already in this right direction. We must collectively emphasize all issues related to social cohesion, given the uncertainty caused by the exogenous crises to which I referred. As I have said before, the Left - and especially SYRIZA - does not have the monopoly of the heart.

– In case the N.D. fails to achieve the goal of self-reliance in the second election, which party is preferable to work with to form a government?

New Democracy is a party of power and must claim independence. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. What is important is to sound the alarm to achieve the highest possible percentage of the New Democracy in the first electoral contest. The percentage of the first ballot will largely determine the result of the second.

Source: First Theme. Gr