Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country will not ask anyone, a reference to official Turkey, on matters of its territorial and national sovereign rights, speaking in an interview with Athens-based Skai TV on Thursday morning. In the sit-down interview, which broached a series of current affairs issues, including the June 9 European Parliament elections and the latest diplomatic tiff over a stand-alone “Macedonia” quip – a violation of the Prespa Agreement – by the new president of North Macedonia, he also referred to the thawing of relations between Greece and Turkey.

Referring to the latter, he cited what he called positive steps taken on the illegal migration/refugee issue, underlining the dwindling flows from Turkey.

Greek-Turkish relations

“Apart from the lack of tension in the Aegean, we have made significant progress in our cooperation on the refugee/migrant issue with (now) extremely limited flows. We are cooperating well with Turkey and thirdly, the facilitation of visas, which was greeted with enthusiasm in the Greek islands,” he said, adding: “I welcome that we have left the period of tension behind us. We can agree to disagree without the finger on the trigger. It was Turkey that said it didn’t want to talk to Greece, not Erdogan with me.”

Despite a climate of détente with Turkey, the prime minister clarified, in a question over the designation of marine parks in the Ionian and Aegean seas: “As far as the marine parks are concerned, they will be established, and the issue does not concern Turkey at all. We have the marine parks of Alonnisos (west-central Aegean) and Zakynthos (in the Ionian Sea). There’s nothing hidden. Greece obviously does not seek anyone’s opinion on the exercise of its national sovereignty.”

“Greece approaches these discussions with its national line strictly defined; nothing is hidden behind this initiative, except for the protection of the marine environment,” he added. “Our only difference with Turkey concerns the delimitation of the EEZ and the continental shelf,” Mitsotakis underlined.

Prespa Agreement

On the recent diplomatic crisis caused by the use of the stand-alone term “Macedonia” by the newly-elected President of North Macedonia, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkov during her swearing-in ceremony, Mitsotakis said he warned the new government of Skopje that any deviation from implementation of the Prespa Agreement would have serious consequences for the two countries’ bilateral relations, as well as for North Macedonia’s path to Europe.

EP Elections

On the significance of the upcoming European Parliament elections, the Greek premier said Greece’s participation in the EU meant more financial tools, equivalent to those of the Recovery & Resilience Fund, which “I personally negotiated, and I want to ensure that the next day has continuity,”

Mitsotakis continued by stressing that on a geopolitical level vis-à-vis the EU, he advocated for a separate financial instrument for funding unified European defense actions to strengthen its geostrategic standing. “I have in mind specifically a European air defense system, a European umbrella that will cover Europe, all European countries, against any threat. Can you imagine a ‘European Iron Dome’?” he said.