Turkey came very close to crossing Greece’s red lines in the Aegean last week, when a Turkish coast guard vessel fired shots in Greek territorial waters east of the islet of Farmakonisi, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Skai Television’s “Istories” program Tuesday, February 21 night, Ekathimerini.com reports.
In a long interview, Kotzias also spoke about Greece’s determination to protect its sovereign interests, the Cyprus issue, the case of the eight Turkish servicemen whom the Supreme Court refused to extradite to Turkey, and NATO’s operations in the Aegean.
“A year-and-a-half ago I described Turkey as a nervous power, a power, in other words, which like Germany after Bismarck in the 19th century had become nervous and did not maintain a balance with its environment,” Kotzias said in the interview.
“Some people in Turkey think that Greece could be like Syria or Iraq. The ‘game’ they played at Farmakonisi is a serious violation of international law and I think they should know that we will not always be tolerant, that our response will not only be the one that we gave then, that it will be much harsher.”
Asked what the Greek government was doing to face this “nervousness,” Kotzias said: “We have communicated with all the major powers on the planet, we have informed all international organizations and, of course, we have made the necessary protests against Turkey for their violations of our territorial waters and for their behavior. The international climate and international law are on the side of our interests, they are tools that we will not abandon. But I want to repeat from here, in this interview, that they are not the only instruments we have. We are not Syria, which has been destroyed, nor a disorganized Iraq… Turkey is making a mistake if it thinks that because we have an economic crisis we are weak as regards our country’s security. They are making a big mistake. Because we have economic problems our care for the security of our country and its sovereignty is greater than in the past.”
Asked whether Turkey had crossed any of the Greek government’s red lines, as in the Farmakonisi incident, Kotzias replied, “They nearly did this morning.”
Commenting on whether differences between Greece and Turkey could be solved at The Hague, Kotzias said: “If I had to choose between a court and war, I would choose the court. If I had to choose between a court and a bilateral, substantial and real agreement, a process of agreement, I would choose the latter. For the time being, we are in the latter process. With the difficulties caused by the situation in Turkey.”