The Greek borders with Turkey are also the European Union’s borders with Turkey and the EU has the determination to protect its external borders effectively, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said during joint statements on Wednesday with visiting EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, after their visit to military border post 1 at Kastanies, Evros.
He added that Greece is “always open to dialogue but will not enter into talks under duress nor assist the legalisation of continuous violations of legality on Turkey’s part.”
Dendias referred to the incidents at the Greek-Turkish borders: “At this spot less than four months ago, Greeks, Europeans and the international community became witnesses to an unbelievable situation; the exploitation by Turkey of the hopes of thousands of people for a better life.”
He noted that the “sordid attempt to blackmail the EU to gain concessions has failed”, adding that “here in Evros, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis along with the presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, as well as the Prime Minister of Croatia, on March 3 voiced the EU’s determination to protect its external borders effectively, according to European and international law.” In the days that followed, Frontex forces were deployed in Evros and still remain there, Dendias said.
“Today, after a short interval due to the pandemic, Turkey has once again stated that its land borders with Europe are open, its coast guard is escorting boats loaded with migrants heading toward the Greek islands and it insists on undermining security, stability and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Dendias said, while he referred in detail to Ankara’s provocativeness and said that Turkey has caused problem for all its neighbours.
“Greece has proved in practice its will and ability to resolve long-standing differences with its neighbours on the basis of international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the principles of good neighbourliness. Conditions sine qua non for any EU member-state but also for any country that wants to become an EU member…Dialogue between neighbouring countries with facing shores for the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf is the only legitimate way, according to the Law of the Sea,” Dendias stated.
Earlier, Dendias and Borrell were briefed by a Greek police official and held talks with Frontex officers stationed in Evros.
“It is clear that we are determined to protect the EU’s external borders and strongly support Greece’s sovereignty,” High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Wednesday in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, following their visit to Kastanies, Evros.
Borrell thanked Dendias for the invitation, the warm welcome and for accompanying him on his visit to the region, at the “borders of Greece and also the borders of the European Union,” as well as the Army and police officers who briefed him on everything that happened in the area a few months ago.
“I wanted to come here and see for myself the situation on the EU’s external borders,” he said, adding that this, combined with information received from Dendias, the Greek army and police, allowed him to better understand the situation that Greece faced and may face again in the future.
Regarding the meetings he will have in the afternoon, in Athens, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Borrell noted that talks are expected to focus on the situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. He noted his awareness of Turkey’s drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean but also the violations of Greek airspace that have worsened the situation between Greece and Turkey and, consequently, in Euro-Turkish relations.
“We share your concern, we discussed how we could stop the dynamics of escalation (tension)”, he said and expressed confidence that in the meetings he will have in Athens in the afternoon “we will be able to develop a common agenda to strengthen co-operation on these issues of common interest but also to seek dialogue with Turkey in order to protect our interests and strengthen regional stability.”
“No one has more important reasons than Greece to have good neighborly relations with Turkey because, at the end of the day, we should be good neighbours. After all, this is why the European Union was founded, in order to have good relations,” he said, adding that it would be in the interests of the EU, Turkey and Greece to try to resolve current difficulties and to improve relations.
He even referred to the EU’s example of good neighbourliness, saying “the EU is the best example in the world of how you can improve relations with your neighbours.”
Borrell also mentioned Frontex’s presence in the region, and the roughly “100 staff from 20 different countries who will remain here to demonstrate the EU’s support,” he said.