Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis told visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday that Turkey’s actions “threaten the peace, stability and cohesion of NATO itself.”
“We discussed everything that has happened in recent months in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Mitsotakis said during joint statements after the end of their meeting at the Maximos Mansion.
“It’s not a bilateral issue,” Mitsotakis stressed. “It concerns all the partners of the North Atlantic pact and (is) a challenge to Europe as a whole,” the Prime Minister said adding: “This is a danger that lurks in a zone of interest for the US as well.”
“A typical example is the acquisition of S-400s by Turkey. Greece, faithful to its national rights, is constantly striving for a peaceful settlement of disputes. It is always ready for dialogue,” Mitsotakis noted.
The Greek PM welcomed the “first step from Turkey towards de-escalation.”
He warned, however, that “it remains to be seen whether this is an honest move or a temporary maneuver. We expect consistency and continuity from our neighbors. We expect an immediate date for the start of exploratory contacts with the sole issue of settling the zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.”
On his part, Stoltenberg, who earlier met President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, praised Greece’s role as a valued ally and its contributions to NATO missions, from Afghanistan to Kosovo.
He commended the constructive engagement of Greece and Turkey at NATO Headquarters, which enabled the establishment of a bilateral military de-confliction mechanism to reduce the risks of incidents and accidents in the eastern Mediterranean. He stressed that the de-confliction mechanism can help to create the space for diplomatic efforts to address the underlying issues.
Stoltenberg expressed his firm hope that the underlying dispute between two allies can now be addressed purely through negotiations and in the spirit of allied solidarity and international law.