Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis touched on a handful of pressing foreign policy issues during his address on Friday at the 9th Delphi Economic Summit, beginning with a analysis on recent developments in bilateral relations with neighboring Turkey.

“We’re not naive or light-headed to believe that from one day to the next we’ll solve all the problems we have with Turkey, problems which go back decades. At the same time, a fundamental element of the good relationship we’re trying to develop with Turkey is an understanding that the primary positions of the two parties will not change.”

Along these lines, he referred to a need for quickly “defusing” whatever tensions arise from time to time.

“We understand how important it is to be able to defuse tensions. The first thing I said when I took over the ministry is that you can’t avoid tensions, but the main thing is that these tensions don’t cause crises. There have been many opportunities for tension over the last 10 months. However, the difference, compared to previous years, was that they were defused due to a quick handling at the highest level,” he said.

Gerapetritis said he understands positions maintaining that official Turkey is unwilling to change, and will continue to be an “unpredictable ally”.

“However, we must understand that we need to maintain calm in our region. If we accept that there are diametrically opposite positions by the two parties, then we can reach this understanding,” he added.

In echoing Athens’ standing position, he reminded that delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean and the even more expansive exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the only difference that the former recognizes vis-à-vis Ankara. As such he repeated that this difference can be adjudicated by an international body.

“I want to leave behind a legacy of a quiet neighborhood. As long as the underlying problem of delimitating maritime zones is not resolved, there will always be tension. At times we have to look at situations bravely. It’s a difficult discussion, one that could have negative consequences for the person leading it, myself in this case. Courage means to sit down and see with Turkey how we can have a balanced position, one based strictly on international law, which will lead us to a solution of this problem in its legal context, and possibly recourse to The Hague or Hamburg, namely, to an international jurisdiction, which will be able to conclude the delimitation issue.”


Referring to the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the continued Israeli military campaign, he repeated that Greece today stands where it stood on Oct. 7, 2023.

“Greece stands where international law stands…Israel has the right of self-defense within the limits set by international law. We should differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. A vision should be provided to the Palestinians, and this is a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

Beleri case

Asked about relations with neighboring Albania and the latter’s EU prospects in light of the controversial Beleri case, Gerapetritis said the emphasis must remain on good-neighborliness.

“The Beleris case is not bilateral, and I’ve made this clear to international organizations. The way the case was handled isn’t compatible with an advanced rule of law, and that’s why it’s not a bilateral issue, but a European one.”

At the same time, he reiterated that despite the specific obstacle, Greece’s standing position on Albania’s European course, along with the rest of the western Balkans, has not changed. “We want to see Albania and the other western Balkan states join the European Union. However, respect for fundamental tenets, such as rule of law, democracy and the rights of minorities, is a pact where no discounts can be made.”


Finally, in reference to Ukraine, he said the conflict there is a “clear violation of international law, “violent, raw and cynical”.

“It is in the West’s best interest not to reward Russia’s stance. Ukraine is at a critical juncture. What Ukraine needs is unanimous support from the West…We must continue to support Ukraine,” he concluded.