Greek FM to Turkey: Greece’s territorial rights ‘not negotiable’

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Thursday sent a clear message to Turkey about the need to respect international law and international treaties, stressing that Greece’s territorial rights are “not negotiable”.

In an interview with Skai radio, Dendias said that Turkey must understand that there is an international framework.
Regarding a reference to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the three-day discussion on the government’s policy platform, Dendias said the prime minister had “extended an olive branch” to Turkey but this went hand-in-hand with the self-evident necessity to absolutely respect international law and international treaties.

“It is not a dialogue with Turkey starting from scratch because we are not talking about uncharted waters, there is an international framework. And within this international framework, we can, of course, talk with our Turkish neighbours,” he added.

“Upholding international law and international treaties has always had huge importance for us. In this context, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as president of the government, addressed the head of the Turkish state,” he said. It remained to be seen how Turkey had understood this invitation, he added, while clarifying that no meeting with his Turkish counterpart was being prepared at this time.

During the interview, the foreign minister also announced that he will be visiting Israel on Sunday for talks with his counterpart and the Israeli prime minister, and that he is to accompany Mitsotakis on his first trip abroad as Greece’s prime minister, visiting Nicosia on Monday.

Talking about his recent visit to the United States, meanwhile, Dendias said this indicated that there was a “base on which to build” in relations with the U.S. and highlighted the fact that he had met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton on the same day with “just a two-day warning”.

“This says something about the willingness on the U.S. side. When they want to see you quickly, this means that there is ground that can be cultivated, on which we can build,” he said, noting that a visit by Pompeo to Athens in the autumn for the second round of U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue was likely.

The minister also referred to Brexit, revealing that Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis was scheduled to present his recommendations for handling Brexit to the cabinet on Friday. “We are obliged to prepare the country and help the large numbers of Greeks living in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Referring to the foreign ministry itself, Dendias praised the country’s diplomatic corps and its “great triumphs” over the course of history and said that his efforts will be geared to healing any problems that exist, since the ministry was responsible for presenting Greece’s image abroad.

“The embassies will be converted to the points that will strive to have the ability to bring investments to Greece, at which point these will be taken over by the development ministry to be handled. They will be the spaces that try to promote Greece’s image, as this emerges through the ministry’s services. In other words, with the legislation that is coming to parliament and with the way that the government is currently organised, the foreign ministry will have a much broader role than under the previous government,” he said.