“The entry of Alexandroupolis into the geopolitical scene gives another weight to our cooperation” emphasized the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Today’s crisis with Turkey it has no precedent, the foreign minister pointed out on Wednesday Nikos Dendias, in his intervention at the School of National Defense on the topic “Challenges, perspectives and strategic goals of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
“Greece had tensions with Turkey too many times. There is a different element, today, and that’s the duration” explained.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that Greece is practicing foreign policy of 7 cycles (among others the EU, USA, Balkans, Middle East, Africa, rising powers), while regarding the Turkish-Libyan memorandum he commented that the Greek appeal to it is the clear appeal of International Law and the International Law of the Sea.
“The entry of Alexandroupolis into the geopolitical scene gives another weight to our cooperation” the Foreign Minister emphasized.
The intervention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in detail
“Dear Mr. Commander, Mr. General,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank Lieutenant General Spanos for today’s invitation. It is a great pleasure and honor to address you.
Also, I am particularly moved to be in this historic building of the old Evelpidon School.
It is a great opportunity for me, as the operator of our country’s foreign policy, to address the officers of our own armed forces and security forces.
Also, to officers from the Republic of Cyprus, but also to our friends and partners, from Egypt, from North Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Unfortunately, we are not in a smooth period, but in front of a series of permanent challenges.
I will start with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. War on the European continent, in the 21st century. A development that we would have considered inconceivable if we were in the same room discussing it two years ago.
Beyond that, however, it is not only Russian revisionism. Revisionism is in full development in other areas as well, and the forces of revisionism are trampling, either in words or in deeds, on International Law. There is, of course, the danger of the food crisis which has to do with the difficulty of exporting grain from Russia and Ukraine on the one hand, but also with the issue of fertilizers. It doesn’t exactly fire the popular imagination, but it’s perhaps more important.
Moreover, apart from this – because crises never come by themselves – there is the energy crisis which is developing on both its fronts: Both in the quantity of energy, but also in the cost of energy, which secondarily leads to inflation and even more greater pressure on societies.
Our country, therefore, faces all these and, in addition, faces a threat of war, the well-known casus belli, from the side of Turkey. It faces, the questioning of our sovereignty and our sovereign rights, a series of hybrid threats, as well as a blatant attempt to tarnish the country abroad. And also, it faces something that we have not seen until now, the instrumentalization of immigration, which of course other countries copied as Belarus did. I am referring to the crisis of 2020, but also to the permanent – of course in a more complex and sophisticated way – keeping immigration in the showcase of Turkish arguments.
Many people who don’t follow these developments like you on a daily basis would be wondering what’s new. Greece had tensions with Turkey too many times. There is a differentiating element, today, and that is duration.
I remind the elders that in 1974, after the invasion of Cyprus, Konstantinos Karamanlis met with the Turkish Prime Minister, that autumn. And Greece started talking with Turkey. The same had happened in all the crisis periods with Turkey. The crises were limited in time and were always followed by a period of dialogue, more or less successful, usually less so. However, this dialogue had the merit of calming the situation. That hasn’t happened this time.
We have an ongoing, escalating crisis approaching, if not exceeding, three years. We have no such precedent. And, of course, the content of this crisis, the broader one, is that the Greek sovereignty over the islands of the Eastern Aegean, and even marginally, of Crete itself, is directly challenged.
I add to this the Turkish-Libyan “memorandum”.
The theoretical background of the Turkish-Libyan “memorandum” is that the islands, regardless of size – I remind you that Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean – have no other rights except territorial waters. And, in fact, the islands of the Aegean 6 miles territorial waters. Anything else is a cause of war for Turkey. The Greek invocation of this is the clear invocation of International Law and the International Law of the Sea.
You will now allow me to tell you schematically how we carry out our policy. We have a foreign policy that I call the policy of circles. Six cycles. A seventh may be added. If you remember the old Olympic Air logo, the circles are intersecting, but not concentric.
As the first circle we consider the relationship with our European partners and friends. Not, however, only in the context of the EU, to which we belong, but also at the bilateral level, which we had quite neglected as a country.
There is, of course, our relationship with France. Our relationship with France has been developed at a strategic level with the Agreement which I also had the honor to sign. Accompanied with the frigate order. You know very well how important something like this is for the Greek Navy. However, I want to note something. It is not the first time that Greece bought war material from France, Rafales and frigates.
He had also acquired in the past. France has never signed an Agreement with us in the past, such as the recent one. It is the first time he has signed such an Agreement.
Beyond that, I will not refer to our relations with the United States, you know them. I had the honor of signing two Agreements with the USA. You know their meaning better than I do. But I would like to tell you that the USA is the second circle.
The entry of Alexandroupoli into the geopolitical scene gives another weight to our cooperation.
I now come to the third circle: Middle East, Gulf, North Africa. Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates are countries with which Greece has very close relations.
The country negotiated with Italy for 50 years, to finally sign the Agreement on the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone that I signed.
Fourth circle, the Balkans, the Western Balkans, because the Eastern Balkans are in the EU. There we have agreed in principle with Albania to refer the issue of the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
We are also trying, as much as we can, to help the Western Balkans join the EU. We believe that this is necessary for the stability of the region and, at the same time, serves our national interest.
The fifth circle concerns rising powers, which embrace the same way of viewing international reality as we do. I am referring to India. I think the next generation will see India as the third superpower. And there are other countries like Japan and Vietnam. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, with which it is necessary for Greece to have a strategic relationship. Its positions in International Law and the role that Indonesia reserves for itself in terms of UNCLOS are fully compatible with our aspirations and our interests. Australia, with its large Greek diaspora, with the same views on International Law.
Sixth, something completely “neglected” by our homeland, our relations with the African Continent. For some strange reason, Greece revised the fixed view that existed, both on Ancient Greece and on the Roman Empire. The Mediterranean is not a border, the Mediterranean is a bridge, it connects, it does not divide.
And there are the big challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa. Because I have visited the countries, I tell you that the situation is getting worse by the day. And terrorism and fundamentalism are pushing toward the shores, especially of the Atlantic. If they reach these shores, the terrorism, broadcast to the sea and to the lines of communication there, will create even greater problems than the already enormous ones. And to the south, the Great Lakes region is being pushed.
Also, we are slowly creating a seventh and last circle, which concerns our participation in various Organizations of international development. For example, Francophonie with 88 countries – I was in Tunis the day before yesterday for the Organization Summit – Lusophonie with Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly in Africa, ASEAN, in which we have observer status for 2-3 months, SICA [Sistema de Integración Centroamericana] in Central America, where I hope we will gain observer status in the coming months. And a long list of other regional organizations. I think it is very important to be present.
I conclude by telling you that in reality diplomacy is a very powerful deterrent, but without the main deterrent you serve, namely the armed forces, the country cannot fulfill its objective of defending national sovereignty, territorial integrity and sovereign of rights. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
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