In a no-holds-barred interview with To Vima’s political reporter Dimitra Kroustali, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis indicated that Greece sees resorting to the International Court of Justice as a way to resolve existing disputes with Turkey.
He said that he offered an olive branch during his meeting with Tayyip Erdogan but that Greece will in no way compromise its sovereign rights.
The PM said that Athens is using all diplomatic tools and alliances and that Greece’s position on issues such as the Turkey-Libya EEZ accord is supported by the US, the EU, Egypt, Israel, most Gulf states, and a large part of Libya itself.
Yet he said that Greece at the same time is bolstering its military deterrent force by upgrading its F-16 and Mirage fighters.
Asked about going to the International Court of Justice the PM said he would like to exhaust the possibilities for dialogue and CBMs and that he seek an understanding with Turkey on three levels- dialogue, exploratory talks between the two sides, and political dialogue.
Hague may be a one-way street
“We must state clearly that if we cannot agree on the sole dispute that Greece recognises – delimitation of the continental shelf of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean – that should be adjudicated by the International Court of Justice. If we believe as we do that right is on our side then we have nothing to fear from such a development,” Mitsotakis said.
As for whether the Greek people and political system are prepared for such an eventuality the PM said, “When we go to the Hague to resolve our dispute with Turkey we must be absolutely certain that right is on our side and ready to accept whatever verdict is handed down. I believe it is certain that all political forces will support the move. It is necessary that it be done. A political and social majority is emerging in support of resolving disputes with Turkey…What other choice do we have? The one is to do nothing which means tht at any moment there can be a result that makes both sides losers. There is no winner in a military clash.”
Given Athens’ rejection of the Libya-Turkey accord as illegal the PM was asked if he wants to get involved in the Libya crisis or start a dialogue on delimitation of the EEZ. Mitsotakis said that Athens does not want to be a party to any problem.
“We want to be part of a solution in Libya because it concerns us as well. We are geographically closer than Turkey and if there were another government in Libya we could discuss delimiting the EEZ as with Libya we have a contiguous maritime zone and not Turkey. We do not want a locus of instability in our neighbourhood,” the PM said.
“I will demand very strongly that Greece participate in the Berlin Process on Libya. Why is Turkey a participant and not Greece? A political resolution of the crisis will be needed. We are placing a precondition for the EU’s approval – that the next government must consider null and void the [Libya-Turkey] “agreement”. This condition is non-negotiable,” Mitsotakis underlined.
As for his scheduled 7 January trip to Washington Mitsotakis said US-Greece ties are stronger than ever. He said in connection with the EastMed gas pipeline the US recognises the need for alternative energy sources in Europe and with the construction of the floating LNG station in Alexandroupolis Greece is formally on the global energy map.
“Natutrally we will also discuss investments with President Trump. He is well known for his business prowess. I am sure he would not want American companies not to lose the opportunity to participate in the Greek success story.”