Describing Turkey as a “difficult neighbour”, Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis has underlined that accumulated tensions could lead to a military accident and escalation.

Addressing a Panteion University Institute of International Relations seminar entitled “New State of Affairs in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean’’, Apostolakis stressed that Greece is building bridges of cooperation and dialogue with countries in its broader region and that it is thus contributing to the development of good neighbourly relations, mutual trust, and constructive interaction.

“I shall again repeat that we must co-exist with a difficult neighbour. We are confronted with Turkey’s provocative acts in the Aegean and its various unsubstantiated claims and we always reacted with prudence and strategic calm. It is self-evident that our stance should not be perceived as weakness,” Apostolakis said.

The defence minister underlined Greece’s efforts to achieve a normalisation of relations.

“In this vein, we recently had meetings between the technical delegations tof the two countries. They decided on actions to be taken in the framework of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), the development of which I discussed with my Turkish counterpart last week in Brussels,” Apostolakis said.

“It is my conviction that this channel of communication must remain open. We want to reduce tensions as an accumulation of tensions can lead to escalation,” he added.

“In any event, we seek peace and stability even as we decisively defend our sovereign rights. Political will and deterrent power and the battle-worthiness of the armed forces have made this message clear in all directions,” Apostolakis said.