On Tuesday night, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias gave an interview at SKAI news station, on the “Istories” show of Alexis Papahelas.
Among other topics, FM Kotzias revealed that Turkey jeopardized the Greek – Turkey relations on the morning of Friday the 17th of February 2017, when a Turkish ship of the Turkish naval Fleet proceeded to take fire drill shots near Farmakonisi Island. As FM Kotzias said “Almost crossed the red line”.
FM Kotzias characterized neighbor country Turkey as “nerve force” and added that “They should rethink of such games. What happened at Farmakonisi island is a serious infringement of International Law and I think that they should know that we will not always be that tolerant and our answer will not be the one we gave them, but harsher”.
Furthermore, FM Kotzias talked about the eight Turkish soldiers that landed on Alexandroupoli airport via helicopter after the failed coup attempt on the 15th of July 2016.
He also talked about the Cyprus issue and the stance of Greek DM Panos Kammenos on the various military challenges of Turkey.
For the Farmakonisi incident
FM Nikos Kotzias said “I have characterized Turkey for the last one and a half year as a nervous force, a force just like 19th century after Bismarck Germany, when Germany was a nervous force and could not keep balance with her surroundings “and he proceeded to add that “Some people in Turkey think that Greece could become a new Syria or a new Iraq, they should know that we will not always be that tolerant and our answer will not be the one we gave them but harsher”.
Greece’s management towards the nervousness of Turkey
“We have made concertations with all the powerful forces of our planet, we have informed all the International Organizations and of course we have made all the necessary demarches towards Turkey, for crossing our borders and their behavior.”
“The international environment and the International law are in our favor, these are the tools that we will never give up using. I do not want to say it again but these are not the only tools on our disposal.”
“We are neither the destroyed Syria nor the disorganized Iraq. Turkey is making a mistake, they think because of our economic crisis we are vulnerable on dealing with homeland security. They are making a big mistake. Because of the economic difficulties we face, caring for the country’s security and dominance is more important than in previous years.”
For the red lines of the Greek Government towards Turkey
When questioned if there is a so called “red line”, meaning if a Turkish soldier or commando steps foot on the islet , FM Nikos Kotzias stated: “ The “red line” is the one we have told them, red”!
When questioned if this is clear from the Turkish side FM Kotzias replied “ There is always a matter, as the poet said – what the mouth says it is not certain the ear hears”.
The Minister also revealed that on the same day of the interview, Turkey almost crossed red line, adding to all they have done up until now.
Could the Greek – Turkish differences be resolved by recourse to the International Court?
The Minister said: “If I was to choose between going to Court or at War I would choose to go to Court. If I was to choose between a Court and a bilateral, substantive, real agreement and an agreement procedure I would choose the second one. For now we are on the second solution. With all the difficulties that it has due to Turkey’s situation.”
For the Helsinki Act agreement
“It would be ideal if we had stayed on the Helsinki act agreements. The Helsinki act agreements had obliged Turkey that for whatever issue we would go to the International Court of justice.
With the Helsinki Agreement, we facilitated them to withdraw from any commitment they had, because other political forces considered it bad to have such agreements on the International Court Justice”, he also noted. “I cannot see any other way we can resolve our differences other than state craft and common law, this by extension means if it is needed we will use all the legal frameworks that are available in the international society.
This does not mean we are going to court right now, because someone asked me. What we possess as power, and as mentality and as measure of power, is the International Law.
This does not mean that we will not count on other means of force” FM Kotzias added.
On Cyprus matter
Answering the question if the resolution process on the Cyprus matter has “stalled”, FM Kotzias said that “It is bad when a process gets stalled and we have to keep it alive.
This is why I agreed on a second international conference “Geneva II” which was proposed by the two interlocutors of Cyprus, the President of the Republic of Cyprus and Mr Akinci the representative of the Turk-Cyprus community, although I believe that until the referendum it will be difficult for Turkey to decide whether they want a settlement or not”.
Regarding the negotiations, FM Kotzias noted “The matter of the presence of occupation troops and safeguards system is for Turkey the most vulnerable point on Cyprus”.
As the Greek FM said there is a point when Turkey will either make a substantial, real compromise and concession or the subject will drag until the negotiations fall apart .
“Because Turkey has not made up their mind – until at least it’s Referendum – how they will handle things on the subject of guarantees and security, if they will really agree to repeal the subject of guarantees and security, they always try to set intermediate issues in order to perplex the talks.
Mr Cavusoglu retreated back to Ankara where he started accusing me for not being present for the negotiations so, I sent him an answer “I am still here in Geneva and we are discussing the Cyprus matter”. They are having a difficulty.
They suddenly came up with a new issue, the four freedom rights for the Turkish people. They have never raised this issue with this formulation.
Why they raised it? In hopes President Anastasiadis won’t accept and calls an end to the negotiations, in order for the negotiations not to end during their weak arguments point revolving the guarantees and security or accept them and place Cyprus and Greece squabbling with the European Union over the matter, where it is well known that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is unable to accept this matter.
The risk of Turkey “braking” the Refugee agreement.
The FM said “Turkey often reminds that she is the one holding the refugee flows. Europe on the other hand has to remind often that Turkey’s economic dependence from the European Union. We are not doing this”.
“If you read for example the Greek newspapers, you will more often read about the potential Turkey has to put pressure on us, blackmail and let refugees enter. Not so often you will read about the needs Turkey has, for example the customs Union we are talked about earlier and the economic dependence Turkey has, especially during this time her economy is at a decline with many social problems”.
For DM Panos Kammenos and the tension Turkish officials
“One positive we got out of last week’s indent before I depart for my last set of trips is that the Greek side and the Greek Minister of Defense did not answer to the personal attacks he received from Turkey. Turkey officials must understand that such personal attacks and attempts to devaluate a Minister of the Greek Government are only a safety valve for their people to hear”.
”Turkish official do not talk in that way about the Greek Defense Minister during International Relation talks. The Greek Defense Minister acted very well when he decided not to reply. I want to record this in the positives of last week”.
For the eight Turk officers and the decision not to issue them back to Turkey.
The Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs when asked why the Greek authorities let the helicopter with the eight Turkish officers enter the country replied.
“The Authorities in the region of northern Greece if knew who was inside the helicopter and what was going to come, they would not permit the helicopter to land.
I imagine that they got surprised when the helicopter landed in Greek soil and eight officers came down, who consider themselves prosecuted by the Turkish state and that is how they were considered by the Greek courts as well, meanwhile the Turkish state consider them to be involved in the coup.”
FM Kotzias continued by saying “We have two principles: Politically, we denounce any kind of coup and we would be the last country, and especial the Greek Left, to accept or tolerate a military coup. On the other hand, who took part in the coup or not and if he is going to have a fair trial on Turkey or not and has taken refuge in Greece, the Greek courts are the ones that will decide this.
The political conviction of the coup does not imply that every Turkish citizen that is considered by Ankara as coup will be judged as one by the Greek courts.
There are two different types of Power, the politic and Justice and I hope that in some point this will be perceived by the Turkish side as well”.
About Turkey pressure on Greece to issue the eight officers back to them the Greek FM stated “The Turks – as does any side that accuses the other- use and exploit all legal means to continue this crisis around these people. I think that when the Greek justice receives new evidence from the Turkish side will take into account and will judge accordingly”.
Watch the full length interview on Skai News Station web player.