The visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the convening of the 5th High Level Cooperation Council of Greece and Türkiye in Athens are a step toward calmness in Greek-Turkish relations, but that does not mean Greece should naively expect the obliteration of problems and their ‘magical’ resolution through one council and one visit, National Defense Minister Nikos Dendias warned in an interview published Sunday.
In ‘To Vima’, Dendias welcomed the calmness and noted that it could contribute to future improvement “under conditions”. He added however, that “we must not forget the multiple swings historically in the pendulum of Greek-Turkish relations. We must always be prepared both for positive and for negative outcomes.”
Speaking of his meeting with his counterpart Yaşar Güler in Athens on Thursday, in the context of the Council, Dendias said they had a good personal communication. Nevertheless, he noted that “if we want a real change of the page in Greek-Turkish relations, it is necessary that our neighboring country changes stance in structural issues that could potentially cause a return back to tension, in the future.” Dendias cited as examples Türkiye’s existing “casus belli for Greece exercising its legal right, the Turkish-Libyan Memorandum, the entirely unsupportable theory of the ‘Blue Homeland’, Ankara’s stance on the Cyprus issue, and the well-known unsubstantiated demands in a series of other issues.”
“I hope that Türkiye on its side will continue to contribute to the prevention of tension in the field. International Law is our guide and what is mentioned in the UN Charter on avoiding threat or use of violence against any country’s territorial integrity or political independence,” the defense minister added.
In terms of the confidence-building measures, Dendias said “they could practically help, under conditions, to establish a better climate, and we are prepared to welcome their next round in Athens. But I must reiterate what I have said before (…) that it is not a negotiation.”
Asked to comment on how a good climate in Greek-Turkish relations affects planning armament purchases, the minister clarified that “Greece is obliged to have strong Armed Forces and not become hostage to circumstances.” Nobody can predict what will happen in the distant future, and planning is necessary, but it is related to the available fiscal space and to the development of new technology and cybersecurity issues, among other things.