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Home arrow Current Affairs arrow Announcements - Statements - Speeches arrow Interview of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias in Real News, with journalist Giorgos Siadimas (25 April 2021)

Interview of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias in Real News, with journalist Giorgos Siadimas (25 April 2021)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

JOURNALIST: Following your visit to Ankara, what is your assessment of developments in Greek-Turkish issues?

N. DENDIAS: The purpose of my visit to Ankara was to clearly explain Greece's positions and, in that context, to seek a positive agenda that could allow for the gradual improvement of Turkey’s relations with both Greece, bilaterally, and the European Union. Gradual de-escalation was a key condition for carrying out this visit. I hope to see follow-through on this effort. The Mitsotakis government has conveyed the message to every direction that it does not want tension, but it has also stated its crystal-clear positions, which are based on international law and the values represented by the UN Charter, NATO and, of course, the European Union.
In this context, we cannot make concessions. I made this clear during my visit, during which I had sincere talks. From this perspective, I think that even the tension in the statements with my colleague and friend Mevlut Cavusoglu was useful. No one should have the false sense that Greece can forfeit rights that are enshrined in international law and treaties that are in force.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the de-escalation in tension will continue, or do you see a reversal in the trend?

N. DENDIAS: I do not want to make predictions. Last October, when I met with my Turkish colleague in Bratislava, he told me that the Turkish side would propose dates for resuming the exploratory talks. Instead, the Oruc Reis made its appearance. Of course, I want to believe that, like Greece, Turkey sees the obvious advantages in continuing de-escalation, both bilaterally and in the context of EU-Turkey relations. I should point out that the latest meeting of the European Council expressly emphasised that if Turkey repeats its violations of international legality, the prospect of measures will return to the table. Greece does not relish this prospect, but it always has to be among Europe’s options.

JOURNALIST: When will the next round of exploratory talks take place?

N. DENDIAS: As you know, it is up to the Turkish side to propose dates for the 63rd round of exploratory talks. I have nothing to add beyond that.

JOURNALIST: You extended an invitation to your Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to visit Greece. Will he come? If so, when do you expect his visit?

N. DENDIAS: I extended an invitation for my Turkish colleague and, as I have said, friend, Mr. Cavusoglu, to visit Athens. The dates will be determined, as usual, via diplomatic channels.
Of course, we are set to meet in a few days, in Geneva. So far, a one-on-one meeting has not been scheduled on the sidelines of the five-sided conference, but whatever the case, we will greet each other as friends. After all, we have known each other for over 15 years. As the line goes in the movie, “it’s strictly business, nothing personal.”

JOURNALIST: At the informal conference on the Cyprus problem, do you think there is a chance of finding common ground? What is your take on the fact that the five-sided talks are taking place in spite of the fact that Turkey appears to be proposing solutions that are outside of the UN framework?

N. DENDIAS: Regarding the informal five-sided conference, allow me to underscore that we are in total coordination with the Republic of Cyprus. President Anastasiades was in Athens a few days ago and met with Prime Minister Mitsotakis. Regarding the prospects of this meeting, I would like to be optimistic that at least a common denominator will be found for continuation of the talks where they left off in 2017.
But I am a realist. Unfortunately, the Turkish stance and the positions of the current leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community leave little room for optimism. Their public statements are completely outside the framework within which a constructive discussion can take place, and outside the only legal framework, as determined by the international community.

JOURNALIST: Will the EU be there?

N. DENDIAS: Cyprus is a member state of the European Union, and any solution that is found must be compatible with the European acquis. This is why we believe that the European Union should be represented – at least on the staff level – at the informal five-sided conference. It is regrettable that its participation was not accepted. I hope that, as in the past, the European Union will play an active role in the effort to settle the Cyprus Issue.

JOURNALIST: You met with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for about an hour. What did you talk about? Was there an official Turkish invitation for a Mitsotakis-Erdoğan meeting?

N. DENDIAS: This was a very important and courteous gesture towards Greece, and it was appreciated by both the government and me, personally. It is a symbolic takeaway, as it concerns the importance Mr. Erdoğan attaches to relations with our country. Mr. Erdoğan and I talked in a friendly atmosphere. In fact, we exchanged gifts. Our discussion covered the whole range of bilateral and EU-Turkey relations. Although we didn't agree on many issues, the overall outcome was positive. And this is what we take away from the meeting. As I said in my statements later that day, I am expecting Mevlut’s visit to Athens so that we can prepare, in due course, for a meeting between the prime minister and the Turkish president.

JOURNALIST: During your visit, you submitted 15 points for cooperation with Turkey, and Turkey added its own points. Is the positive agenda you are promoting limited to the economy?

N. DENDIAS: The positive agenda is aimed at improving the climate. For the most part, the proposals concern pending initiatives from previous years. And they cover so-called ‘low policy’ issues. This does not mean they are not important. The opposite. If implemented, they can enable the creation of a positive climate. Due to the fact that they cover issues that fall basically within economic diplomacy, I asked Deputy Minister Fragogiannis to coordinate on their promotion.

JOURNALIST: Various things were written and said by a portion of the media regarding whether you had coordinated fully with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on what you said in your joint statements with Mr. Cavusoglu in Ankara. What is your comment on that?

N. DENDIAS: Mr. Mitsotakis and I met just before I left for Ankara and immediately upon my return. And obviously, we communicated regularly during my stay there. Besides, the Prime Minister’s position was clearly expressed in the relevant briefings, so there is no need for me to add anything. So, the people in question can stop trying to fabricate unsubstantiated scenarios and fake news. The Mitsotakis government has a strategy, which I serve and express. That is a strategy of proactive diplomacy with expansion of alliances and cooperation in the wider region, based on International Law, the Law of the Sea, good neighbourly relations, and defence of our national interests on the ground.

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