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Greece said it will do 'whatever it takes' to protect its sovereignty, Bloomberg reported.

Relations between Greece and its eastern neighbor have been tense in recent months after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a maritime agreement with Libya. This prompted Turkey to make bids for the maritime zones that Athens considers Greek in accordance with international law.

“If the only difference we have is on the proclamation of an exclusive economic zone, then we are ready to negotiate and sit at the table with Turkey and discuss the issue,” Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs Miltiades Varvitsiotis noted.

According to him, Greece is also ready to discuss bilateral issues such as economics, tourism, COVID-19 and migration flows.

“But if the issue is to contest Greek sovereignty over islands in the Aegean sea, then the response is no,” the minister added. “We’re not discussing our sovereignty, we’re not giving away Greek soil and we will do whatever it takes to defend it.”

Tension also increases with the possible move to convert the famous Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque. Erdogan has long insisted on this, rejecting criticism from the US and Greece.

The Hagia Sophia included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is of particular importance for the Greeks, as it considers the museum to be one of the most important Christian monuments and a legacy of the Orthodox tradition dating back to the Byzantine Empire.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that the disagreement on Hagia Sophia “is not a Greek-Turkish issue -- it’s a universal issue,” adding that Greece will wait for Turkey’s decision.

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