ATHENS – Ahead of a council in Athens this month with Turkey, Greek Deputy Premier/Foreign Minsiter Evangelos Venizelos said Athens is trying to avoid an escalation with Ankara, which has a warship and research vessel off Cyprus.
“We are ready to prevent the possibility of an incident with Turkey,” Venizelos said in the Sunday edition of the Real News newspaper, adding that “We are implementing actions to prevent an escalation, because a military escalation has never helped the region or Greece.”
He didn’t say what that was but earlier this month Turkey sent a warship past a number of Greek islands, including not too far from the southern coast of Athens, and has regularly been violating Greek air space with fighter jets. Those jets and the warship were tracked by the Greek military but no action was taken.
Venizelos said that it is one thing to say you have strong defense and if need be, the country will use it and it’s quite another to enter into a crisis “that has no prospects, has no strategic framework and often hurt a country and eventually become permanent and freeze.”
Greece’s military is far outgunned by Turkey, a fellow NATO member that has been testing Cyprus in search of oil and gas in Cypriot waters where Turkey wants to drill.
That prompted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to break off reunification talks that have failed for 40 years and had just resumed under his push.