Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has lashed back after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed his declaration that Greece is prepared for all scenarios in defending its sovereign rights under international law and that Greece and Cyprus enjoy the support of their European partners and the international community in confronting Ankara’s bellicose behaviour.
“I want to respond to that statement [of Erdogan]and say first of all that the Greek prime minister does not say ‘certain things’ [as Erdogan said] but speaks the language of international law, logic, truth, and decisiveness. Secondly, he does not speak alone [as the Turkish president said of Tsipras]. He speaks having by his side the EU, all EU member-states, and the vast majority of the international community in every corner of the world and especially in our region, which respects international law and the law of the sea. I am speaking to everyone and the message is clear,” Tsipras said.
“Adopting tactics of escalation that lead to an impasse and are fruitless is of no use. It is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness. There is no use drilling in the EEZ of a country [Cyprus] that he knows does not have a deterrent force at sea. It would be well if these violations of international law stop here. That is because there will be a serious price as regards EU-Turkey relations and as regards peace, stability, and cooperation, which is our aim and pursuit in the broader region,” the PM underlined.
Tsipras was speaking in Cyprus, where he traveled to attend the funeral of the former president of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias.
The PM was accompanied by Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, with whom he paid a visit to the Hellenic Force in Cyprus [ELDYK, photo).
Erdogan sabre-rattles, sees Tsipras as isolated
Tsipras was responding to a statement in which Erdogan suggested that Greece is isolated and that Ankara will do as it likes regardless of what the Greek PM may say.
“We have four [war] ships in the areas and we have taken measures. The prime minister of Greece says certain things on his own. Whatever he may say, we have rights there. In the name of defending our rights, the exploration and drilling ships will continue their work,” Erdogan had declared.
“Until we achieve a just distribution of the natural wealth in the Eastern Mediterranean we shall continue with decisive steps in the region. We shall not allow any exploration and drilling work that ignores the rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Erdogan said, referring to the occupation regime (recognised only by Ankara) in the Turkish-occupied north of the island.
Tsipras’ stresses Greek deterrent force
For his part, Erdogan was responding to Tsipras’ statement that Greece has the means to deter any bellicose act by Turkey in its continental shelf and on land.
“The Greek Armed Forces have plans that we are aware of, that we have studied, and that the Government Council on Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) has approved. They [Turkey] will not reach that point [of drilling in Greece’s continental shelf] as we will deter them from reaching that point,” the Greek PM had said.
“Greece is a sovereign country that is in a position to defend its sovereign rights. There is no scenario under which a [Turkish drilling ship] will drill in the Greek continental shelf because that will be blocked.”
That remark was an indirect response to speculation by analysts and the press about what Greece will do if Ankara drills in the territorial waters, which Turkey disputes, of the Greek island of Kastelorizo.