During an interview of the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, in the German Zeit Online, he answered questions regarding Greek-Turkish affairs and gave a very correct and disarming answer to a related question about demilitarization.
We will present to you some questions and answers that we consider most important:
M. Varvitsiotis: Turkey has intensified its aggressive rhetoric towards our country and has significantly increased its territorial claims in the Aegean Sea. Until 2020 there was a claim to extend its own EEZ in the Mediterranean and thus obtain the right to exploit the subsoil, but also the right to fish. But since 2021, Turkey often refers to Mavi Vatan, i.e. the so-called “Blue Homeland” or “Sea Homeland”. You know that the government in Ankara claims that it owns half of the Aegean Sea and that many of our islands belong to it and not to Greece. However, these views are ahistorical and unacceptable.
ZEIT ONLINE: One of Turkey’s arguments is that, according to international treaties, there should be no Greek military presence on specific islands off its coast. What do you say about this?
M. Varvitsiotis: Of course, our army is on these islands. It couldn’t be otherwise. You have to take into account that we are facing the Turkish armed forces on the opposite bank, that is, over half a million soldiers. This number is still very high, despite all the other operations of the Turkish military – whether in Iraq or Syria or wherever else they have been involved in recent years.
ZEIT ONLINE: What would have to happen for this conflict with Turkey to end in a real war with Greece?
M. Varvitsiotis: It depends exclusively on how Turkey will behave. We don’t want this war. We will not do anything that could cause a war. But rest assured that we will defend ourselves, whenever necessary. And most importantly: we are not going to give in to any absurd Turkish demands. But I personally will not ask permission from Turkey to visit one of our islands. It sounds like a joke, but it’s the reality. There are many protests from Turkish officials because Greek Ministers are traveling to Greek islands near our eastern border. They even went so far as to accuse the President of the Republic, Mrs. Katerina Sakellaropoulou. It is absolutely absurd and unacceptable.
But the most important question in our opinion is this:
ZEIT ONLINE: Can you make concessions on the demand that the Greek army withdraw from the islands?
M. Varvitsiotis: No. I remind you of a saying that says: I will not kill my dog just because the neighbor would like to step on the grass in my garden.
Let us know what you think in the comments!