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Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence

Alternate Defence Minister’s statement to journalists on Greek-Turkish issues

The Alternate Minister of National Defence, Panagiotis Rigas, in a statement he made to journalists on Thursday, October 25th 2018 referred to the following:

Regarding the situation with the Greek – Turkish relations:

The Greek-Turkish relations haven’t always been easy. The key element on the part of the Greek government – and SYRIZA’s position is well known – consists in the fact that in the said wider region, where things are complicated, we managed to consolidate stability by means of the comprehensive strategy that we implement.

Our country is widely acknowledged as a pillar of stability and as regards its particular relation with Turkey, we are trying to make our point that peaceful coexistence is the only one that will provide the possibility to the people in the region to have a good level of economic growth. Of course, Turkey often increases tensions either through its words or, many times, through its actions. However, such an increase of tensions is in no one’s best interest; it does not help the economies of both countries.

Regarding Greece’s position:

We monitor the situation calmly, like we always do. There will be contacts. And I give a straight answer to all those, who believe that there should be no contacts. Contacts are always necessary and helpful in difficult times. There are also agreements between the Armed Forces of both countries, but also between the respective Ministries; there are measures of mutual trust.

The limit of 12 miles is a right that is recognized by international treaties and the Law of the Sea. We are saying that we are exercising such right and – as regards the EEZ – we define the scope insofar as we can and we have agreed, and we are exercising such right to the extent that there are relations with other countries.

Regarding the continental shelf – the EEZ:

Apart from that, we fully recognize the difference that exists with Turkey on the continental shelf. We do not forego such right and at the same time, a discussion will be made in order to find a solution in both countries’ interest. And I am repeating myself: without foregoing such right, without stepping back.

As you understand, such matters need to be dealt with carefully and calmly. The relationships created and discussions are the ones that solve problems. I am saying that again, because our agenda is open on foreign policy issues, with the purpose of finding solutions and at the same time, problems should not deprive us of the right to complete solutions where there are no problems.

Regarding whether there is a dialogue table with the neighbouring country:

This is the case. Apart from that, however, we do not intent to delay our right to proceed with consultations with other countries, so that this right would exist and would be exercised and would provide the possibility of being fully exercised, as well as with the economic benefits that both our country and other countries may receive.