Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sought to assure his nation in a televised national address that Greece was ready to face Turkish provocations in the eastern Mediterranean.
As tensions escalated and Mitsotakis announced that the Greek military was on high alert, he said that Greece will not be “blackmailed” by Turkish threats.
Mitsotakis complete statement (in English). Video in Greek follows.
Greece is a proud and powerful country. A member of the European family and a pillar of stability in the eastern Mediterranean. We remain unwaveringly committed to the principles of International Law and the rules of good neighbourliness. We seek to build bridges of peace, good faith, and cooperation with everyone.
Our country never threatens but will not suffer blackmail either. This is why it does not succumb to threats or tolerate provocative acts.
We negotiated and signed the agreements on maritime zone demarcation with Italy and, more recently, with Egypt, guided by this principled policy. These agreements are completely aligned with the Law of the Sea.
They demonstrate that long-standing disputes can be resolved when there is good will and a spirit of trust, and ensure progress and prosperity for the peoples, always in line with International Law.
It is in this very framework of legality that we are prepared to enter into discussions with all our neighbours, confidently and without concessions.
We do not fear even the toughest dialogue, because we have faith in the fairness of our positions.
However, dialogue becomes irrelevant in a climate of tension and provocation.
Turkey’s reaction to the lawful EEZ demarcation agreement with Egypt unfortunately shows that it cannot come to terms with the European principles of the 21st century. That it remains attached to the logic of coercion and intimidation, which belongs to past times.
This attitude, however, proves that its alleged readiness for dialogue is simply false. Because, why else would a completely lawful agreement between two states be used by a third state as a pretext to withdraw from exploratory diplomatic contacts before these talks are even resolved.
Especially at a time when Turkey itself has signed a null and void and completely illegal memorandum with the Administration of Tripoli, Libya, and has been testing Greece’s strength with recurrent provocations?
The militarisation of the situation on the part of Turkey is also an acknowledgement of lack of legally valid positions. Because such projection of power is nothing but an attempt to compensate for its weakness in matters of Law.
In response to Turkey’s deployment of its Fleet, we have also deployed our own, putting our Armed Forces on alert. I am confident that all Greeks have the same absolute trust in the capabilities of our Armed Forces as I do.
When faced with provocation, we maintain the strength that stems from our equanimity and prudence. At the same time, though, we remain in absolute political and operational readiness.
We are also mobilizing our diplomacy, notifying our friendly nations and alerting our allies and partners.
We are not alone in this effort. The immediate response of the European Union to our request to convene the Foreign Affairs Council confirms that this is not purely an issue of Greek-Turkish relations. It concerns the relations of all of Europe with Turkey.
Pursuing its policy of aggressive provocations, Turkey is only paving the way for severe sanctions against it. This comes at a time when powerful states, with considerable global and regional power, advocate the fairness of our position on these matters.
I would like to stress again that we respond, we do not provoke. And we are vigilantly looking forward to sense prevailing, at last, in our neighbouring country, so that dialogue may be re-initiated in good faith.
A dialogue based on International Law and mutual respect, on the single dispute that is subject to discussion and potential recourse to an international court: the demarcation of our maritime zones in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.
We are not flying flags of convenience. We are adhering to responsibility and legality. Because no serious foreign policy can be conducted using propaganda photos of non-existent seismic research activities or nationalistic exacerbation to state-controlled media.
Let it be known: The risk of an accident lurks when so many military assets are gathered in such a contained area. In such a case, responsibility lies upon the one who gives rise to these circumstances.
We remain firm in our commitment to international legality and the power of diplomacy to resolve even the most complex issues. We will never be the ones to escalate the situation. Yet, self-restraint is only one aspect of our power. No provocation will though go unanswered. We have demonstrated that we will respond if necessary. And we will do so again if it is required.
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