Turkey must grasp chance of dialogue, Greek Foreign Minister says

Turkey’s government should grasp the opportunity for dialogue with Greece during talks between officials of the two countries’ foreign ministries in the coming days, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said.

Greece favours negotiations with Turkey to resolve territorial disputes in the Mediterranean, which have reignited in recent months, but is ready to use all powers and legal means at its disposal to defend its national sovereignty, Dendias said in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper published on Tuesday.

“Our positions have gained public support from the European Union, the United States, Russia, Egypt, Israel and from certain Gulf countries, among others,” Dendias said of Greek disputes with Turkey over mineral rights near Cyprus and islands in the Aegean. “In contrast, Turkey’s positions have been condemned absolutely as being outside the framework of the law by the entirety of the international community.”

Dendias spoke ahead of a meeting in Washington on Tuesday between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Donald Trump. Mitsotakis said at an event in Florida on Monday that he plans to brief Trump on “the serious dangers that Turkey's aggressive and illegal behaviour raises for peace and security” in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey should acknowledge that a change of course is now in its interests, Dendias said.

“By its constant provocations, Turkey has only managed to isolate itself and be labelled as the troublemaker in a region that now more than ever needs positive initiatives that bolster security and stability,” he said. “It is time, I think, that it acknowledges that a change of course would also be in its own best interest.”

Greece, meanwhile, has emerged as “an undisputed pillar of stability in the Balkans and the southeast Mediterranean”, according to Dendias.

“It is working actively and methodically towards creating conditions for prosperity, growth and regional stability, a fact that is recognised by all our international partners,” he said.

“Turkey, in contrast – which claimed to want “zero problems with neighbours” – has created problems with every single one of its neighbours, without exception.”

Greece believes it has the support of the United States, which is also a NATO ally of Turkey, in resolving political tensions, Dendias said.

“I believe that our allies on the other side the Atlantic are aware of the importance of safeguarding peace and stability and eliminating violations or transgressions in an area where the elements of instability are multiplying,” he said.