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?

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