Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis touched on last weekend’s visit to Crete by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in particular recalling a statement by the latter whereby Greek-US relations are at their best level that he can remember in the 30 years as a diplomat.
The Greek premier spoke during a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday evening carried by state broadcaster ERT.
Mitsotakis received America’s top diplomat on Saturday at his summer home outside the port city of Chania, with Blinken arriving in Greece for a half-day visit as part of a wider tour of the region, mostly Middle East destinations.
Asked about the prospect of the Hellenic Air Force acquiring F-35 warplanes from the United States, he merely confirmed Athens’ interest and the government’s standing goal of reinforcing Greece’s armed forces.
“This request is absolutely mature and will soon be approved by the US,” he noted.
Greek-Turkish relations, EEZ
At the same time, when asked about the prospect of neighboring Turkey acquiring more F-16s from the United States, Mitsotakis reiterated that ties with Washington are not intertwined with Greek-Turkish relations, “…nor are we the ones who’ll stop something or have the ability to influence the sale of defense systems to another country.”
“What we’ve cited is self-evident: that in an alliance, defense systems – aircraft in this case – cannot be used for overflights of Greek islands. However, I’m keeping the good climate in Greek-Turkish relations of the last few months, and I want to believe that times of heightened tension have passed, and that they’ve been left behind for good,” he underlined.
In further questions dealing with Greek-Turkish relations, and specifically delimitation of exclusive economic zones (EEZ), he emphasized that there will never be a Greek prime minister “who will say that he doesn’t, in some manner, want to resolve this issue… as long as the conditions are in the best interest of the homeland.”
“Obviously, such a difficult issue cannot move forward from any other angle. Beyond that, however, what I want to say is that even if we cannot solve this issue we must be able to learn to live with Turkey and our differences, and to have a good relationship, despite the fact that we may continue to disagree, but without being led to the edge,” he concluded.