Turkey urges Greece to avoid provocations, calls for common sense
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has repeated Turkey’s bid to resolve all the existing problems with Greece through dialogue and diplomacy, urging his Greek counterpart to refrain from provocative moves and rhetoric.
In an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency, Akar slammed a recent statement by Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, who accused Turkey of breaching international law and of creating instability in the region at a panel he participated. Greek and Greek Cypriot officials are in efforts to draw attention to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Turkish Cyprus on July 20 with accusatory and provocative rhetoric.
“Greece is continuing its provocative, unlawful, uncompromising and escalating attitude which does not even abide by the agreements it signed,” Akar stated, criticizing Panagiotopoulus for behaving against mutual efforts to defuse tension during the summer after a constructive meeting between Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in June.
“I invite my esteemed colleague to think and speak reasonably, logically, fairly and objectively, away from being selfish and emotional and within the framework of international law and good neighborly relations,” Akar said.
The international law, dialogue and good neighborly relations construct Turkey’s guidelines for the resolution of the problems, he recalled, blaming Greece for opposing Turkey’s proposal for a combined training center at NATO although it was supported by the allies.
“Moreover, in order to justify these actions, Greece makes negative and provocative statements that are far from the truth,” the minister said, adding it was Athens who was increasing tension in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean by arming the islands with non-military status and carrying out the military exercises.
‘Third parties cannot resolve our problems’
Akar cited the fact that the bilateral problems between Turkey and Greece cannot be resolved with the participation of the third parties, urging Athens not to try to make them a problem of Turkey-EU, Turkey-NATO, or Turkey-United States.
“We sincerely believe and strive that the problems in the Aegean, the eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus should be resolved through dialogue. We are aware that we are right in terms of international law, bilateral law and history, and therefore, we are very comfortable. Our strength stems from this rightfulness,” he suggested.
“Positive agenda cannot be run one-sided. If you want the continuation of the positive climate, you should avoid provocative moves and rhetoric,” Akar said.
Erdoğan important regional leader: Dendias
In the meantime, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias described Erdoğan as an important regional leader who has proven to be a successful politician in reaching his goals.
“Regardless of what anyone thinks about Turkey’s politics, Erdoğan is an important player in our region. He has been ruling Turkey for as long as [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk. Whether we admit it or not, he is a leader who has shaped the face of Turkey,” he said.
Denying that Erdoğan is an unpredictable leader, Dendias said, “Although most of us disagree, I see Erdoğan as someone running after his strategy and personal values.”
The Greek foreign minister stressed that the best way of resolving long-standing bilateral problems is a face-to-face meeting between Erdoğan and Mitsotakis.
“I have always been in favor of a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders. There is such a structure in Turkey that no one else has the authority to negotiate substantially. Therefore, I believe that if there is any hope for the solution of the problems, it will be possible with Mitsotakis’ meeting with Erdoğan,” he said.
This article originally appeared in Hurriyet Daily News on 11 July 2021.