The message that Greece historically, nationally, has always emphasized that if Turkey extends a hand of friendship, our country will respond, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias broadcasts in his full-length interview on the Action 24 television station.
In fact, Nikos Dendias is quick to describe the “huge change”, as he says, in the Turkish attitude towards Greece as “absolutely welcome”. Asked if he trusts this turn by Turkey, the foreign minister replies that trust develops over time and notes that it was not the Greek side that had expressed threats or claims. “When we see Turkey moving away from the previous example, and creating a new example of attempting friendly relations, this is something that we want to believe is sincere. We are not naive” he clearly underlines and expresses the assessment that everything will be decided after the Turkish elections. “There we will see what are the intentions of the Turkish government that will emerge from the crisis of the Turkish people and how we could move forward,” he explains. According to Nikos Dendias, the elections in Turkey can always allow a new beginning and he suggests that this is why Greece is ready to respond to a hand of friendship that extends from the other side of the Aegean.
On the same wavelength, he repeats the message that Greece always says that as long as the right climate exists, it is willing to enter into a dialogue with Turkey and behave in a similar manner. That’s what’s happening, he added.
In this context, Nikos Dendias outlines the change in the Turkish attitude, as he said, immediately after his visit to Antioch, a few days after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey. Indicatively, he summarizes that in the past, every day there were overflights, violations of the airspace, territorial waters, while all this time since that day, no violation has been recorded. “And something more: there is not even Turkish flight activity in the Aegean. There is generally a complete change in the Turkish attitude. The rhetoric has completely changed. Neither insults, nor threats, nor anything else are thrown against Greece.”
Attempting to explain the Turkish attitude, he states that he considers in principle that Turkey with this behavior recognizes that Greece, at the time of Turkish society’s need, chose, without asking for any geopolitical compensation, and without taking into account all the previous ones, to stand by the Turkish people. “I think this was appreciated by the Turkish side,” he adds.
In response to a question about the possibility of a new meeting with the Turkish counterpart of Mevlut Cavusoglu a few hours after their meeting in Brussels, on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Summit, Nikos Dendias explicitly clarifies that if required at this moment the channels of communication are absolutely open . “Of course, we are heading towards elections. Now is not the time to have a broad discussion. This is something that will follow the crisis of the societies of both countries. But what is important is that at this moment there are these channels of communication that can allow our countries to go to the elections with calm waters. Something that here, to be honest, for some months was an absolute demand.
Depicting the level of his relations with his Turkish counterpart, he points out that they have such a relationship that allows him to call him at any time and said he is confident that he will respond immediately. After all, it has happened, he always kept in touch, as he informed.
Asked to answer what is the most difficult moment he faced during his tenure at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he mentions the summer of 2020. “It was very difficult for all Greeks. It was very difficult for the armed forces, for their leadership, it was also very difficult for me. It makes no sense to recall or reveal episodes. Some are known, some are not. However, the truth is that there were times when we came very close to a point of, shall we say, no return. Nevertheless, thanks to sober handling, on both sides, the worst was avoided. And we are today where we are. What is very important, I think, is not to return to that period. I think it’s good, everyone, as long as we can forget about it (that time),” he explained.
It further highlights that in the broader context of relations, Greece has tried all these years to give a clear picture to the international community, to our allies, to our friends, to those who wanted to hear us about the cause and nature of the Greek-Turkish differences. In this light, he considers this effort successful.
Highlighting the challenges of Greek diplomacy after the elections, he emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to the country’s foreign policy and focuses on relations with Turkey and the completion of the campaign for the United Nations Security Council. Regarding the Greek candidacy for the Security Council, he expresses the belief that “we are very close now”. In addition, it highlights the importance of the two other campaigns concerning the Human Rights Council and the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the communication with countries and geographical areas that our country has not developed. As he clarifies, it refers to a piece of the Pacific, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, smaller countries in the region, the Philippines, and a piece of Africa,
At the same time, he does not fail to mention the “very important role that Greece has to play in the Balkans, in the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the new reality in Montenegro”.
Afterwards, the interview turned to political issues concerning the interior of the country in view of the upcoming elections. Asked if he believes in collaborations, Nikos Dendias emphasized that the proposal of the ND is an independent government, a government of the New Democracy and adds: “The New Democracy has before it a sufficient period, five weeks, to explain to the Greek society what deeply believes. That the best scenario for Greece is an independent government of the New Democracy, with the specific prime minister, who is the leader”. Reflecting the will of the ND, he states: “what we want is to convince the Greek society that it should choose us. He must give Mitsotakis a second four-year term. This is what we will pursue. I think we have a significant chance of getting it right, to do it well, with absolute respect for the judgment of the Greek people. The people are our boss.”
Regarding the possibility of Elias Kasidiaris being excluded from the elections, he states that he believes that the Golden Dawn is a criminal phenomenon, which must be rejected from the entire political scene. “This was my position right from the beginning, this is my position now,” he assures. On the occasion of tomorrow’s 82nd anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Greece, on April 6, 1941, he recalls that Greece lost 1 million people to Nazism in the Second World War. “This thing is not forgotten. Neo-Nazi phenomena cannot be allowed in Greece,” he clarifies categorically.
How should the parties of the democratic arc respond? “With a complete exclusion of the neo-Nazi phenomenon. With absolute respect for the right of every person to express their opinions. But also with the protection of the Democracy, the democratic polity, our national tradition and our victims” he says.
Finally, it emphasizes the need for the state to become more efficient, more citizen-friendly, more democratic, with more accountability and transparency mechanisms. This is a historical challenge for all the states of the Western world, he points out and adds that the ND has progressed quite a bit.
Source: Defence Review