Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson’s response to a journalist’s question regarding today’s press release by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning Greek officials’ statements on the Pontic Genocide Remembrance Day (19.05.2023)

In response to a journalist’s question regarding today’s press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye concerning Greek officials’ statements on the Pontic Genocide Remembrance Day, the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Georgios Arnaoutis stated the following:

“All countries are proud of their history and they are all evaluated based on their contribution to global civilization. Greece is one of them. But history also hides dark moments that should neither be forgotten nor written off or distorted. The Pontic Genocide is undoubtedly one of them. Only by confronting the historical truth and acknowledging their mistakes can countries work together to create a better future. Extremism has no place in such a context”.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ remarks with the ERT NEWS “STO KENTRO OI EKLOGES” show and journalists, G. Kouvaras, N. Meletis, A. Mangiriadis (15.05.2023)

G. KOUVARAS: Our first topic of discussion is foreign policy and Nikos Meletis, our diplomatic editor here at ERT, will ask Mr. Dendias.

N. MELETIS: Mr. Dendias, I don’t want to sound as if I’ m prognosticating where you will be after the elections, but in any case, you are leaving a significant legacy to your successor, to the one who will succeed you in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that is the important agreements that you have signed, as well as the fact that you have opened the horizons of Greek foreign policy in geographic areas that had not previously been under the radar of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I’d like to ask you about Greek-Turkish relations. You have frequently stated that you will suggest a fresh approach to find a solution, to promote a solution to the problem of delimitation of the continental shelf and address the problems in Greek-Turkish relations. Do you believe that the problem in Greek-Turkish relations has so far been procedural rather than a substantive one due to Turkish positions?

N. DENDIAS: No, Mr. Meletis, I don’t think it’s a procedural issue. I believe it’s an issue of substance. But I also believe that the exploratory talks, which began with a specific rationale of taking the dispute between Greece and Türkiye to arbitration in The Hague in 2004, have fallen out of the rhythm that they were originally intended to have. And there have been 64 rounds with no tangible results, which we would have desired.

Therefore, I will not propose a change to the procedure but some changes which I believe will make it easier to determine whether Türkiye is willing to resolve the dispute after the elections or not.

N. MELETIS: Allow me to ask a follow-up question. Following the latest incidents in Himare with the arrest of Fredi Beleri, I’d like to ask: Minister, do you regret inviting Edi Rama to Athens and organizing an exhibition of his artworks at Zappeion? As has now been demonstrated, personal relations are not the rule when it comes to foreign policy.

N. DENDIAS. There are no regrets. The country must do all possible to foster good relations with its neighbours and it’s then up to its neighbours to realize that good relations with Greece are a major asset for these countries.

Therefore, my answer is ‘no’. I have no regrets whatsoever. Of course, if you will allow me to add a final comment on the heart of the matter. First of all, I’m very happy about Beleri being elected and I’d like to reiterate what Prime Minister Rama said: if there is no irrefutable, I repeat the word, irrefutable evidence against him, then arresting him and putting him on trial is an enormous scandal.

G. KATROUGALOS: I’d like to ask Mr. Dendias, who has already spoken, a question. We read in Kathimerini newspaper that Mr.  Erdoğan said that a new era can open for Greek-Turkish relations as long as Mr. Mitsotakis keeps his promises. Do you know what these promises are? Because I don’t. Furthermore, rather than the national position that we will refer the maritime economic zones, continental shelf and EEZ to The Hague, Mr. Mitsotakis consistently refers to the fact that we will refer maritime zones, including the territorial waters, which we have the sovereign right to extend.  How do you comment on that?

N. DENDIAS: Let me start with the second one. It goes without saying that there’s no Greek Prime Minister, or Prime Minister from any party, who would agree to discuss the issue of territorial waters. The issue of territorial waters and their extension to 12 miles, you know it and everyone knows it, is a unilateral right of our country. No one can cede it.

G. KATROUGALOS: Does Mr. Mitsotakis not know that?

N. DENDIAS: He obviously knows.

G. KATROUGALOS: And why does he say otherwise?

N. DENDIAS: It’s obvious that the current and the former and future Prime Ministers are not going to negotiate on the issue of territorial waters. Let us now return to the initial issue. I wouldn’t take any statements during the election period in Türkiye at face value.

It’s clear that President Erdoğan wanted to have a good election result. He was obliged to present a narrative to Turkish society in order to achieve this electoral result.
I haven’t used anything that was said during the pre-election period in Türkiye as a yardstick for the post-election period. If President Erdoğan wins after 14 days, his true colors will be seen. But let us not get caught up in what he said to his own domestic audience during the pre-election period.

Α. LOVERDOS: […] My question has to do with Mr. Meletis’ question that was not answered in any way. The minister was asked what new procedures or ideas he has for the talks with Türkiye. The Minister’s response was limited to the exploratory talks. He didn’t share his ideas with us.

And, secondly, as regards Albania, I believe the Minister should reflect, if he is not doing so, on the fact that the Prime Minister has very much strengthened Albania’s course towards the EU without claiming anything, while the minority is blatantly oppressed by Edi Rama.

N. DENDIAS: I am trying to follow the rules of the debate. First of all, on the first point, you’re right, Mr. Loverdos. I have not been sufficiently detailed in my answer to Mr. Meletis. But I have not been sufficiently detailed because precisely the procedure I propose to follow cannot be the subject of a public debate.

If I were to put it openly to any public audience, I would jeopardize its effectiveness. But to be honest, I’m completely ready to privately explain what I believe could be improved in this approach to any of you. And I’m sure, since we’ve worked together on foreign policy matters for so long, you wouldn’t want me to say openly what has to change in this.

Now as regards the issue of Albania’s European perspective, Mr. Mitsotakis did not do anything new. Mr. Mitsotakis followed the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda.

What does the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda say? It says that our country, Greece, can benefit from the European perspective of the Balkan countries, of all Balkan countries.

We have succeeded in the Eastern Balkans; we are trying for the Western Balkans. In the context of this perspective, it is certain that the Greek National minority will benefit the most.

Because there won’t be such things as a Beleri arrest when there is European rule of law. As a result, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has favored the Greek national minority, which he visited a few weeks ago.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kostas Fragogiannis, meets with the Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Competitiveness and Knowledge Exchange of the United Arab Emirates, Abdulla Nasser Lootah (Athens, 17.05.2023)

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Kostas Fragogiannis, met today, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, with the Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Competitiveness and Knowledge Exchange of the United Arab Emirates, Abdulla Nasser Lootah, who is on a working visit to Athens.

The discussion was focused on the particularly warm climate in relations between the two countries in recent years as well as the remarkable enhancement of bilateral economic relations. Special emphasis was placed on the possibilities for further cooperation in the field of technology and digitization of government services, with the Emirati Deputy Minister presenting UAE’s Government Experience Exchange Programme.

Announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the dispatch of humanitarian aid to Syria (16.5.2023)

Another shipment of humanitarian aid to earthquake-affected areas is ready for departure as the Neptune Odyssey is scheduled to sail from the port of Piraeus tomorrow, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, heading for Beirut. Humanitarian supplies will be received in Beirut and transported by road to Syria with the assistance of the Syrian Red Crescent. The shipment, weighing 17 tons, includes basic necessities and food and is part of the relief effort of Greek citizens collected by the Municipality of Athens. The ship for the transport of the humanitarian aid is offered pro bono by Neptune Lines Shipping & Managing Enterprises, owned by Melina Travlos.

Greece, with feelings of support and solidarity, responded from the very first moment to the needs of the neighbouring peoples for humanitarian aid. Tomorrow’s dispatch is part of a series of actions undertaken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate the organization, collection and dispatch of humanitarian supplies to the areas affected by the earthquakes of 6 February 2023.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ interview with “Alpha Radio 98,9” and journalists Takis Hatzis and George Evgenidis – highlights (15.05.2023)

T. HATZIS: I’d like to hear your first thoughts on what we saw in Türkiye, that is on the election result. What does this signify for Greece, Minister?
N. DENDIAS: First of all, let me tell you that we were not surprised at all. We have always had the feeling in our internal analyses that the Turkish opinion polls released by both sides, underestimated deep eastern Türkiye where President Erdoğan has an increased influence. Consequently, we didn’t believe that his hegemony in the neighboring country would be easily overturned.
T. HATZIS: So, you also personally believed that Erdoğan would in all likelihood win this election.
N. DENDIAS: Yes, that’s what I believed, Mr. Hatzis. Aside from that, the Greek government is not entitled to express any preference or opinion.
We are waiting for the sovereign decision of the Turkish people. We are ready to cooperate with whichever government emerges from the elections in 15 days from now.
Of course, this Sunday’s elections were not without political results. There is a Parliament. The AKP appears to have gained the majority in this Parliament. We’ll see …
T. HATZIS: They got 322 seats …
N. DENDIAS: …what exactly has happened. But, in any case, it appears that contrary to Western predictions, Erdoğan’s absolute hegemony has not ended. Now, we will see what will happen with the Presidency…
T. HATZIS: Is there any chance that the situation will change for the better? I mean, I noticed in the interview that Mr. Erdoğan gave to M. Kostidis, my colleague from Kathimerini newspaper, that he has also started to talk about peace, cooperation, dialogue, and things like that. Is there any chance that we will see a shift in that direction after this election result?
N. DENDIAS: Mr. Hatzis, we always hope for the best. But I have to be honest, we are preparing for the worst as well. It’s clear that the Turkish side has completely changed both its rhetoric and its practices lately – and this is something that is absolutely welcome. Following my visit and our country’s response after the earthquakes, Türkiye acknowledged the gesture in a manner that was both very practical and clear. Aside from that, we have quite a way to go.
G. EVGENIDIS: Is this, however, sustainable?
T. HATZIS: I’m not sure about that.
G. EVGENIDIS: I’d like to ask…
T. HATZIS: Just a minute. Minister, Türkiye wishes to serve as a regional intermediary.
N. DENDIAS: Yes. I think that if Türkiye…
T. HATZIS: I think that’s a given. So, does this help in a dialogue with Greece?
N. DENDIAS: I’d like to be honest. When I speak to or negotiate with somebody, I put myself in their shoes. I understand Turkish ambitions; Türkiye is a big country that would like to play a major role. What I hope Türkiye realizes at some point, is that a close and friendly relationship with Greece is an important, if not vital, prerequisite for such ambitions.
Conversely, hostility towards Greece as well as the perception that it violates International Law and seeks to impose things by force, do not serve its own ambitions.
That’s the ambitious Türkiye I’m referring to. And Greece has nothing to fear from a prosperous and stable Türkiye. It’s a huge market next to us; we’ve always been traders in our history, always crossing over and establishing contacts, creating trade and personal relations.
The point is that Türkiye should abandon the logic of neo-Ottoman imposition. That’s the issue for me.  I want Türkiye to have ambitions; I wish it had.
G. EVGENIDIS: Yes, that’s perfectly understandable. The only question now is whether a victory for Mr. Erdoğan in the second round would spark his regional ambitions.    And those things that seemed to have been put on hold for a while because of the earthquakes, and the U.S. stance in the region, may lead him to a fresh wave of aggressive and revisionist behavior following a clean election result
N. DENDIAS: To be clear, Mr. Evgenidis, no one can rule out anything. We’ve seen President Erdoğan going through several phases in his long and successful political career. We, on our part, have to hope and be ready for the best. But the fact, for example, that a far-right candidate this morning came out in support of the Turkish opposition should tell us something. Also, I’m one of those who…
T. HATZIS: Are you talking about Mr. Sinan Oğan?
N. DENDIAS: Yes, that’s exactly who I’m talking about. I don’t like to refer to names. In addition, we are all aware in general, how the Republican Party evolved after Kemal and during Inonu’s leadership, because I know history, you all know history, and it’s a relatively recent event. In any case, so as to put it bluntly, who was in power, which party was ruling Türkiye when the invasion of Cyprus took place?