Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos has said that Athens is complying with the rules of international law, whereas Turkey is acting like a “regional troublemaker and bully” concerning disputes in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
“All I am saying – what the Greek government is saying – is that you cannot be called to start a dialogue in conditions of blackmail or of direct questioning of the country’s sovereign rights. We do not want such a dialogue,” Panagiotopoulos was quoted as saying by Greek local media on June 22 during an interview with Alpha TV.
The Greek minister’s comments came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung on June 21 that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had “wanted” dialogue with the Greek government, but Athens has been “unwilling” to engage in talks.
In the same interview on June 21, Çavuşoğlu was also asked what Turkey’s response would be to any efforts by Greece to prevent its drilling operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Çavuşoğlu responded by saying, “Let them try. No one will dare stop our drill ships. If they want an escalation, we will respond.”
In the face of Çavuşoğlu’s comments, Panagiotopoulos said that a dialogue is impossible “when Greece’s sovereign rights are being directly challenged.”
“Greece insists on complying with the rules of international law, while Turkey is acting like a regional troublemaker and bully,” he said. “We have said that we want dialogue; we want dialogue but not on these terms.”
Earlier in June, Panagiotopoulos did not rule out the possibility of a “military conflict” with Turkey, saying that his country is ready for any scenario to defend its rights.
“We do not want to go there, but we want to make it clear that we will do whatever it takes to defend our sovereign rights to the fullest extent possible,” Panagiotopoulos had said on June 4.