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Press Office

Istanbul, 14 June 2022

Greek Parliamentary Delegation responds to Turkey’s National Defence Minister during NATO PA meeting

The work of the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group and the Subcommittee on NATO Partnerships of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) began today in Istanbul.

The Greek side is represented by MPs Spilios Livanis, Manousos Voloudakis, Theodora Tzakri and Andreas Loverdos.

During his speech, the Minister of National Defence of Turkey, Hulusi Akar, raised the issue of demilitarising the Greek islands, which he characterised as a “chronic issue” that should be resolved through dialogue and in a spirit of mutual respect. He claimed that Greece has adopted a rhetoric that fuels tensions and is exacerbating the situation, while any bilateral issues between Greece and Turkey do not concern NATO and the EU and should be resolved bilaterally. He further claimed that Turkey does not constitute a threat, but a reliable ally, as the two countries are linked by common historical and geographic ties. Therefore, he argued, it is important to intensify negotiations, in order to resolve existing differences. 
The Head of the Greek Delegation Spilios Livanos gave the appropriate answers to the Turkish Minister and expressed Greece’s commitment to the rules of International Law and respect of the principles of the Rule of Law, but also Greece’s commitment to the fight against terrorism. Addressing the Turkish Minister he pointed out that it is a contradiction that while Turkey speaks of respect for International Law and castigates Russia’s expansionism and revisionism, at the very same time it threatens Greece with the casus belli; in spite of it being a neighbouring country and an ally, it adopts a harsh rhetoric against Greece and it maintains under its occupation, following an illegal invasion, the northern part of an independent state, Cyprus. Concluding, Mr Livanos stressed that Greece remains open to dialogue, faithful to International Law and International Treaties, and added that in this framework Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis held talks with Turkey’s President Erdoǧan, however, Turkey’s provocative rhetoric and the stance of the President have led to no dialogue. 
MP Manousos Voloudakis referred to flights by Turkish fighter jets over inhabited Greek islands, as well as to the fact that, recently, Turkey has also been requesting the demilitarisation of the islands of the Eastern Aegean. Turkey considers it its right to conduct military operations in Syria and Iraq and is asking us to make restrictions in our own territory. This reasoning is similar to Russia’s reasoning towards Ukraine. Lastly, he gave assurances that everything that is happening lately is strengthening the national unity and morale of the Greeks. “We will not back dοwn” he stressed. 
MP Theodora Tzakri, in an answer to Turkey’s Energy Minister Donmez, underlined that the demand for the international demilitarisation of the Greek islands is outrageous, especially coming from a country which is actively threatening the Greek islands with daily violations. Unfortunately, Turkey is pursuing a policy of overflights and violations of our national airspace, which constitute a direct violation of International Law and cause tension in the relations between the two countries. Greece is in favour of exploratory talks to define the EEZ, however, it is unacceptable for such talks to take place under a climate of threats and violations by Turkey. 
Responding to Turkish Energy Minister Donmez, MP Andreas Loverdos said that according to the Law of the Sea and the case law of International Courts on the problems we are facing in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea, all the islands have rights to all maritime zones. We are all aware that there is a relevant UNCLOS article, ie article 121, paragraph 2.  

Based on all of this, Mr Loverdos wondered why Turkey does not accept the overall process, ie why it does not accept, for there to be negotiations, if the exploratory contacts bear fruit, and if nothing results from the negotiations, for both sides to appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague or to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg. Furthermore, he raised the question why Turkey has yet to recognise the jurisdiction of either one of the two International Courts. 

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