“Greece will do what it needs to; it knows what to do in order to defend its sovereign rights”, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said when asked whether the violation of the Greek sovereign rights by the Turkish researches is considered, as he has “announced”, a casus belli, adding that, “Greece as a whole, and not only its Government, will do whatever it takes and will use all the means at its disposal”.
Asked whether the Government is considering an appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, he replied that “the appeal to The Hague is something that concerns us, but over time we are not to be blamed for the arbitration agreement not being signed”. However, he stressed that “it is one thing to try to resolve the dispute, even through The Hague, but it is another thing to tackle the unfolding of the Turkish provocations “.
To a question regarding whether Greece would seek more specific sanctions at the next EU Summit (a matter also raised by SYRIZA), he responded that “There is a framework for sanctions against Turkey that is being further specified. We want to drift away from the sanctions course and seek for something bigger; we want to condemn Turkey with a clear statement from the Summit, to declare its actions, as well as its Agreement with Libya illegal, and to secure support towards Greece”.
However, he noted that the Greek-Turkish Summit in Thessaloniki (agreed during the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting in New York) would take place early next year, though no specific date has been set yet. As to whether Mr. Mitsotakis will raise the Greek-Turkish issues during his meeting with Donald Trump, he replied that “The January 7 meeting has a broader agenda, which includes economic issues and attracting investments. Today there will be a preparatory meeting with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt”.
He then referred to the meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy, during which Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will brief the representatives of the parliamentary parties on developments regarding the Greek-Turkish relations, as well as on the initiatives taken by the Government against the Turkish provocations; Government Spokesman Stelios Petsas will also brief the political authors on the two letters penned by the Greek Government to the UN.
As for those letters, he stated: “Yesterday, Greece’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, following instructions from the Foreign Minister, sent – on the issue of the Turkish-Libyan “Agreement”- two letters; one to the President of the Security Council and the other one to the UN Secretary-General”. Responding to a question about why there were two letters, he explained that the first was to avoid registering the Turkey-Libya Agreement, as it does not comply with the rules of international law, while the second one to the President sets out and calls for him to take measures in order to prevent any disturbances that might derive in the region from the Turkish provocations.
The two letters
In the first letter, it is pointed out that the Turkey-Libya Agreement was concluded in bad faith and violates the Law of the Sea, as the maritime zones of Turkey and Libya are not adjacent, nor is there a common maritime border between the two states. In addition, the Agreement does not take into account the Greek islands and their rights to maritime zones (Continental Shelf and EEZ). It is also noted that the Agreement is void, as it was not approved by the Libyan Parliament, as evidenced by a letter from the President of the Libyan Parliament to the UN Secretary General. For these reasons, our country wholesomely rejects this agreement as void and incapable of affecting the Greek sovereign rights.
It is also noted that the conclusion of the “Agreement” disrupts the peace and security of the region, with the Security Council being called to consider this factor, in order to proceed to condemnations on the basis that it contradicts international law, and to call on Turkey and Libya to abstain from any further activities that would violate Greece’s sovereign rights and escalate tensions in the region.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the same arguments are put forward and – due to the voidness of the agreement – it is asked that the Agreement be not registered with the United Nations neither be published by the UN Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea.
It is also pointed out to the Secretary-General that the matter should be brought to the attention of the Security Council, to the President of which a letter has been sent, as I have already said.
Continuing, Mr. Petsas said that “beyond that, as you know, we have undertaken diplomatic initiatives at European and international level, which are already bearing fruit. These range from statements by Heads of State and Government, such as French President Macron, to announcements such as those by the US and Russian diplomacy”.
He then said that the Foreign Minister had developed the Greek arguments in yesterday’s Council of Foreign Ministers. He explained: “He underlined the Turkish unlawful activity in the Aegean, Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean; he has called for the explicit condemnation of these memoranda; the creation of a framework for sanctions in the event that Turkey and the Tripoli government fail to comply; and of course, support towards Greece and Cyprus. At the same time, he stressed that Greece would do “whatever it takes” to defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights. The issue will be raised by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the European Council on Thursday and Friday.
Finally, he stressed that yesterday, at the Conference of the Presidents of the EPP Parliamentary Groups, organized by the Vice-President of the EPP Parliamentary Group Vangelis Meimarakis, the President of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen, following an intervention by the Secretary-General of New Demorcacy’s Parliamentary Group Stavros Kalafatis regarding the Turkish provocations, provided reassurance for the undoubtable European support: “We are”, she stressed, “standing firmly by your side; Turkey’s actions in the Aegean are deemed unacceptable; we will convey a clear message to Turkey”. /ibna