Greece must obey NATO obligations amid tensions with Turkey: Mitsotakis

Greece must obey NATO obligations amid tensions with Turkey: Mitsotakis

Yorgo Kirbaki - ATHENS
Greece must obey NATO obligations amid tensions with Turkey: Mitsotakis

Greece cannot deny its liabilities under NATO membership amid ongoing geopolitical disputes with Turkey, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.

“It would be inconceivable for Greece not to be on the right side of history and not be consistent in its alliance obligations when it has open issues with Turkey,” he told daily To Vima on May 8.

Turkey and Greece have long been at odds over the overlapping continental shelf and territorial waters claims in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Pointing to rising tensions in the Aegean between April 26 and 28 over an exchange of airspace violations by fighter jets, Mitsotakis noted that relations have eased when compared to 2020, when the two countries emphasized their maritime border claims in the Mediterranean.

“There was a huge tension 10 days ago and then it stopped. It could resume next week,” he said.

Turkey has criticized Greece for escalating tension in the Aegean Sea by provocative flights close to the Turkish coast, reiterating Ankara’s unchanged position for a peaceful resolution to pending problems between the two neighbors.

“The statements of the Foreign Ministry of Greece concerning the incidents that took place between the Air Forces of the two countries in the Aegean Sea on April 27, 2022, do not reflect the truth,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on April 29.

Bilgiç recalled that the Greek Air Force conducted provocative flights in close proximity to the Turkish coast and repeatedly violated Turkish airspace over Didim, Datça and Dalaman on April 26 and 28.

Mitsotakis issued a complaint against alliance member Turkey to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg over the developments.

The Greek prime minister will visit the United States to meet with President Joe Biden next week.

Prior to the visit, a draft bill was submitted to the Greek parliament to extend the scope of military cooperation between Greece and the United States and expand U.S. military bases near the Turkish border and on the island of Crete. The proposed law is expected to be voted on May 12.

Meanwhile, the main opposition SYRIZA’s leader and former prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, urged Mitsotakis to show efforts to block U.S.-Turkey cooperation to upgrade F-16 fighter jets.