Ambassador Andreas Papastavrou, the head of the Greek Permanent representation to the EU, charges in an interview with Euractiv that Ankara is threatening Greece with war if Athens exercises its sovereign rights.

Asked to respond to Ankara’s recent charges that it is Greece that is provoking Turkey in the Aegean, Papastavrou replied:

“Turkey threatens us with war, in case we exercise our rights, which derive from the international law and the Law of the Sea. One could hardly argue that any threat, let alone war threats, could be in conformity with the UN principles, international law and the values upon which the EU is founded.The same goes for aggressive actions like the ramming of a Hellenic Coast Guard vessel by a Turkish patrol boat, within Greek territorial waters.”

Papastavrou also addressed the issue of the two Greek army officers who have been held captive for over two months without charges in a Turkish prison.

He rejected Ankara’s call for an exchange with eight Turkish officers seeking asylum in Greece, who are accused of participating in the July, 2016, abortive coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“First of all, I would like to recall that Greece immediately, strongly and unequivocally condemned the attempted July 2016 coup. At the same time, I strongly disagree with the argument that the issue has been politicised by the EU. The “politicisation” came as a result of an attempt to entangle the issue with other situations, completely dissimilar to it. Then, the EU reacted rightfully,” Papastavrou said, noting that Greece will continue to work to secure the release of the officers.