UNGA 2020: UAE-Israel accord shows possibilities of diplomacy, says Greek prime minister

Kyriakos Mitsotakis also hit out at Turkey over its recent aggression in the eastern Mediterranean

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece's prime minister, speaks during the United Nations General Assembly seen on a laptop computer in Hastings on the Hudson, New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. The United Nations General Assembly met in a virtual environment for the first time in its 75-year history due to the pandemic. Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said the peace accord between the UAE and Israel has shown the opportunities provided by diplomacy in his address to the UN General Assembly.

The Greek leader said on Friday that while his nation had been dealing with Turkish aggression in recent months, the movement towards peace by the UAE and Israel had shown historic enmity could be overcome.

“I refuse to believe that partnership between near neighbours is not possible,” he said.

“Look at the recent agreement struck between Israel and the UAE, both friends of Greece, now friends with each other. Years of suspicion and animosity have been replaced by cooperation and mutual understanding.”

In recent months, Ankara and Athens have been caught in a tense standoff in the eastern Mediterranean over access to its resource-rich waters.

The dispute, which has drawn in the European Union and regional powers, has brought Greece and Turkey close to an all-out confrontation.

The Greek Prime Minister rebuked Turkish President Recep Erdogan for not accepting his overtures, beginning at last year's General Assembly.

“Turkey responded with escalation, provocation, disinformation and aggression. Where Greece chose a path of dialogue in good faith, Turkey chose the path of intransigence,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

“We know that Turkey’s actions undermine international law and threaten the security and stability of the broader region of the eastern Mediterranean and of all EU member states."

The Greek leader said the EU had made it clear unilateral action by Turkey would not go unchallenged and the resolution of the maritime border dispute between Athens and Turkey could come through the International Court at The Hague.

However, he remained optimistic over the prospect of negotiations.

“The beginning of exploratory talks between our two sides, which was announced two days ago, is a step in the right direction,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

The Greek prime minister also hailed the efforts of his country’s medical professionals in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Greece has emerged as one of Europe’s success stories, weathering the first wave of the disease well in comparison to its neighbours.

“The way Greece and the Greek people have responded to these challenges has proved to me that there is a way through this uncertainty,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

“Years of austerity had left Greece vulnerable to a pandemic Coronavirus, threatened to overwhelm our health service. And yet, we proved that agility, flexibility and new technology can empower people and achieve results that once seemed impossible.”