THESSALONIKI – Greece’s prime minister says that he cannot imagine that tensions with neighboring NATO ally Turkey could ever escalate into armed conflict.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke at a press conference Sunday at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where he gave the keynote speech Saturday outlining his government’s economic policy goals.
Asked by The Associated Press whether a recent escalation in rhetoric from Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, could be the prelude to an armed conflict, Mitsotakis replied negatively.
“I don’t believe this will ever happen. And if, God forbid, it happened, Turkey would receive an absolutely devastating response. And I think they know it very well. Turkey knows the competence of the Greek (armed) forces,” he said.
Erdogan has accused Greece of occupying supposedly demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea and has threatened that Turkey would take action.
Mitsotakis added that, despite Erdogan’s “unacceptable” comments, he was still open to dialogue and a meeting with him.
Mitsotakis linked Greece’s unequivocal support for Ukraine to concerns that, if Russia prevails, it could serve as an example to other countries with expansionist designs.
“There is a dividing line between the countries that respect the inviolability of borders (and) the rules of international law and those who believe that, based on the law of the strongest, they can target countries they believe are weaker and change the borders on a whim,” Mitsotakis said.
Mitsotakis added “it is very important to give Ukraine the chance to negotiate a peace with Russia on its own terms and certainly not as the loser in this war.”
Demetris Nellas contributed from Athens, Greece