Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ interview with ” Ta Nea Savatokyriako” and journalist A. Fotaki-highlights (13.05.2023)

JOURNALIST: Were there any decisions you took during your four years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that you would change if you could go back in time? I’m referring to the period of extreme tension with Türkiye, as well.

N. DENDIAS: As regards foreign policy, time – in the sense of having established a distance from moments of tension and strain of the past – is becoming a litmus test for evaluating achievements and drawing conclusions.

Four years on from 2019, I believe that developments have vindicated our major foreign policy choices to a large extent.

Our primary concern has been to broaden and deepen the scope of Greek foreign policy, as well as to expand and exploit our country’s alliances, with the aim of effectively addressing all challenges.

Regarding Türkiye in particular, I’d like to emphasize that my decisions and actions have always been dictated by my firm conviction that we should work systematically to create the conditions for a meaningful and effective dialogue to resolve our dispute over the delimitation of the continental shelf and EEZ, always on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea.

JOURNALIST: What will the next day be like in Greek-Turkish relations when both countries describe each other’s entrenched positions as a “challenge”? Is it possible to break the vicious circle of tension?

N. DENDIAS: I cannot predict the near, let alone the far future of Greek-Turkish relations. This is primarily dependent on the neighbor’s will and the attitude of the next Turkish government, whatever it may be. For our part, without harboring any illusions as regards the firm Turkish positions, we believe that, at this stage, the generally improved climate in our bilateral relations could be used to establish an open channel of communication between the two countries.  In the long run, that could potentially lead to the launch of a serious and sincere dialogue aimed at reaching an agreement to resolve our sole dispute on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea.

JOURNALIST: You’ve brought up the agreements reached with Italy and Egypt as examples of Greece’s willingness to find solutions in accordance with International Law. Is that an implicit admission that we should also be ready for a compromise as regards our dispute with Türkiye?

N. DENDIAS: I frequently use the agreements with Egypt and Italy as examples because, indeed, in both cases we were able to secure a good outcome to long-standing negotiations through intensive and constructive dialogue, achieving solutions on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea.

Because after all, this has been our country’s long-standing position: resolving issues related to the delimitation of the continental shelf and EEZ on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea. Obviously, we want the same thing to happen in the case of our sole dispute with Türkiye. Whether this will happen though depends primarily on the readiness of the other side. For our part, we should seize every possibility and every window of opportunity in this regard, demonstrating wisdom, confidence, and sincerity, while avoiding creating excessive expectations.