Dendias: Present-day Turkey differs from the same country in the early 2000s

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Greece will enter into exploratory talks with Turkey, whenever these begin, with a sincere and constructive attitude, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in an interview with the Sunday edition of “Kathimerini”, while underlining that the agenda of such exploratory contacts is specific and cannot change.

The foreign minister made it clear that neither of the two sides can unilaterally decide to expand the agenda of the discussion and that this would be tantamount to an effort to undermine these contacts.

He also expressed his concern over the fact that present-day Turkey differs significantly from the same country in 2016, when the last round of exploratory contacts was held, and also in the early 2000s, when Turkey was aiming at European Union accession.

Dendias commented on the draft bill extending Greece’s territorial waters to 12 nautical miles along its western coastline, noting that this was the first expansion of the borders of the Greek state since 1947 and one that employed peaceful means based on international law.

“We are preparing for expansion in other parts of the country. We are taking the required technical steps, so that we are ready to proceed when this is judged to be expedient. When this will happen is a political choice,” he said.

He noted that the rhetoric on the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot side did not allow much room for optimism regarding the Cyprus issue, while adding that Greece’s position was well known and unchanged.

On relations with the United States, Dendias said that Athens hopes to continue building up this relationship and making Greek-U.S. relations even stronger, completing the negotiations for a multi-year Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement so that it does not need to be renewed every year and there is a stronger U.S. presence in Greece, noting that this will boost the country’s geopolitical significance.

Talking about the closer ties that Greece is striving to develop with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, Dendias said that Greece’s relations within bilateral and multilateral formations were not “directed against anyone” and sought to check Turkey’s revisionist and provocative behaviour but not the country, as such, which was free to participate in such formations “provided it accepts that differences must be settled peacefully, on the basis of international law.”

He noted that Greece has in the past year settled issues that have been pending for decades, through its agreements with Italy and Egypt, its cooperated with UAE and an agreement with Albania to refer the issue of maritime zones to the international court at The Hague.

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