Greek FM Dendias visits ICJ, in a move to raise pressure over Turkey

Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO under the pretext they harbour terrorists is seen in Athens as a cynical attempt to blackmail the United States into agreeing to the lifting of all sanctions against the Turkish defence industry. Turkey wants the United States to approve the purchase of F-16 fighter jets and its return to the F-35 program from which it was expelled after its purchase of S-400 weapons systems from Russia.

Turkey’s dire financial situation and the government’s poll numbers ahead of next year’s election are believed to be pushing the ruling AKP to take a tougher stance against Washington to please anti-American public opinion but also to not appear to be “losing points” against Greece. 

Tellingly, after the announcement by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis about Greece’s interest in the F-35, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quick to express his dismay.

“Look at Greece! It owes the West 400 billion euros, but they give it weapons and the United States approves building bases. On the other hand, when they meet with us, they say, ‘We want to develop a relationship with you,’” he said. 

For its part, Athens is moving with the aim of highlighting Greece’s firm position to resolve disputes with Turkey on the basis of international legitimacy, namely the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. 

According to well-informed sources, Athens’ willingness to agree with Turkey on an appeal to The Hague was raised by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias during his contacts in Washington. 

It was noted that although the goal of Athens is specific, there has been no response from Ankara. On the contrary, a Turkish UAV flew over Kandeliousa in the southeastern Aegean, to remind Greece of Ankara’s “gray zones” claims.

The visit by Dendias on Thursday to the headquarters of the ICJ was a clear reminder of Greek views. 

In his meeting with ICJ President Joan Donoghue, Dendias stressed, among other things, that the basic principle of Greece is the settlement of all bilateral disputes on the basis of international law, through negotiations. If these do not succeed, he said, then the matter should be referred to the ICJ. According to diplomatic sources, Dendias noted that the goal is for all the countries of the world, starting from the countries in Greece’s immediate neighbourhood, “to accept these basic principles.”

(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)

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