Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs G. Katrougalos on the occasion of the March 25 national holiday (Kalamata, 25 March 2019)

G. KATROUGALOS: The message of the Revolution of 1821 is timeless. A message concerning our national independence, our national rights, our own liberty, and universal liberty. A message that when we Greeks stand united, we can achieve the impossible: resurrection through resistance, even when the balance of power is overwhelmingly against us. The battle for national rights continues now, with much better conditions. After the period of the memoranda, we have fully obtained our national sovereignty, and we are not just a stable republic, but we are exporters of stability. And with the new, upgraded diplomatic standing we enjoy, with the alliances we are developing, we can mitigate shows of force from any revisionist power and impose International Law as the sole framework for our bilateral and multilateral relations. International Law and the Law of the Sea which is an integral part thereof that also governs our relations with neighbouring Turkey, and we of course seek to re-open dialogue with the latter, not for joint exploitation, as is very recklessly written, but to begin the exploratory talks to delineate our continental shelf. And in the Eastern Mediterranean, a condition for Turkey’s inclusion in the energy equation is the respect of International Law, the Law of the Sea as well as, clearly, recognition of Cyprus’ inalienable right to its natural resources. All this constitutes long-standing national positions. Nobody should alter or distort them. This country belongs to each and every one of us, as Makriyannis said.

JOURNALIST: …regarding Kastellorizo and the second thing, we saw a new provocation by Erdogan with regard to Hagia Sophia.

G. KATROUGALOS: Kastellorizo has a continental shelf, as do all the Aegean islands, Even if it does belong to the Lycian sea, it constitutes one single unit with the rest of the Dodecanese, one single area that faces the Turkish coast. The Law of the Sea is clear in this regard, and there is no margin for dispute. Therefore, just like all islands, Kastellorizo also has a continental shelf, and any further discussion about this is misleading.

JOURNALIST: In other words, you are saying the Kastellorizo belongs to the Aegean.

G. KATROUGALOS No, I am saying that even though geographically and hydrographically it belongs to the Lycian sea, this is not important regarding the continental shelf, and we must not get the issues mixed up. Nor can we change geography, but geography is not to the detriment of our national interests. What does the poet say? The nation must learn to consider national what is true. Therefore, our national position must not be determined either by the situation or by self-interest, along with party lines or otherwise. We must always remain firm in what our national line has been. As regards Hagia Sophia, it is not just a great church of Christendom, the largest church for many centuries, but it is a world heritage site. It has been recognised by UNESCO as part of our world cultural heritage. Therefore, doubting this status in any way is not just an insult to Christians, it is an insult to the international community and to International Law. We wish to believe that the statements of 16 March by the Turkish leadership will be applicable and that there will be no change in this status. Thank you. I look forward to next year’s celebrations.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic