FM Dendias in interview to The Economist: Int'l Law & Int'l Law of the Sea comprise the basis for improving Greece-Turkey relations

There is “no reason whatsoever for which Greece and Turkey cannot become the best of friends,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias in his interview to The Economist on the sidelines of the 26th Annual Economist Government Roundtable that is being held in Athens on July 5-7.

But Turkey, he pointed out, “has to accept International law and International Law of the Sea.”

However, Dendias made another point by reference to “trying to solve an exercise in geometry and doing it together: what happens is that Greece tries to solve the exercise according to the Euclidean geometry where parallels do exist, and Turkey tries to solve the same exercise with a completely different set of rules, its own set of rules with elliptical geometry where parallels do not exist.”

“No matter how long we talk, we will never be able to solve this same exercise together,” he added, and he stressed that the answer to this is that “they should use the same set of rules, not the one that Greece speaks about, not the one that Turkeys speaks about, but the one that the international community accepts. International law, International Law of the Sea, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

The truth is that for Greece “good relations with Turkey are very important,” Dendias said. “But good relations with Turkey have to have a very solid basis, as with all other countries of the world. And what is that solid basis? It is obvious. It is International Law, it is International Law of the Sea, it is human rights, it is rights of women, it is respect for each other and it is tolerance.”

And Greece has always hoped, he noted, “or at least for the last three decades, that Turkey would come closer to that set of ideas, would come closer to the European Union, let me remind to everybody that Turkey still aspires, or at least pays lip service to the aspiration of becoming a member of the European Union, and that Greece is the only country that supports Turkey towards that aspiration. Still supports Turkey.”

If Turkey “comes around to that sort of understanding, not just with us but with the international community, I could say that Greece and Turkey and the region would have a very bright future, a very bright future indeed,” said the Greek minister.

Referring to the recent NATO summit in Madrid, Dendias said that it was “a positive turn, a green card for Sweden and Finland.”

He also called these two countries’ visible NATO membership “a very proud ‘achievement’ of President Putin, it’s a gift to the Alliance and it’s a gift to the free world.”

But also, he noted, “I am expecting Sweden and Finland to change a little the climate within NATO when they become members, because they are both proud democracies, important democracies, and it is important to underline that NATO is an Alliance of democracies.”

“I hope that the Turkish government, I hope that President Erdogan appreciates how critical the moment is, appreciates how important it is to show unity, appreciates how important it would be for the Alliance to have Sweden and Finland, and what has been achieved in Madrid,” he added.

Dendias continued to observe that “of course there are problems in Europe, and there are problems that the new generation of leaders, like French President Macron, like German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, have to deal with. But, yet again, the important thing is for Europe to stay on course.”

“The challenges posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine make it more difficult, inflation makes it more difficult, the situation in the Sahel in Africa makes it more difficult, but these are challenges we have to address and we can address.”

But these should be addressed also “with one other dimension that we should always remember: to keep the Euro-Atlantic bond alive. It is important that in this process the USA stay with us,” Dendias concluded./ANA-PMA