Turkey dares Greece to negotiation table
Greece has recently adopted a more aggressive line in regards to the ongoing tension in the eastern Mediterranean as it lost psychological superiority, the Turkish foreign minister has said, repeating Ankara’s readiness to sit around the same table with Athens should the latter has the same courage to do so.
“If Greece is confident and has the courage, then it sits at the[negotiation] table and tells that it is right in front of everybody. There, of course, we also have a lot to tell,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a joint press conference with visiting Congolese counterpart Jean-Claude Gakosso on Sept. 8 in Ankara. “It’s important to act sincerely and in a principled way.”
Çavuşoğlu reiterated that Turkey has long been expressing its will to negotiate all the problems with Greece but Athens has dismissed multiple initiatives for a direct talk with Ankara as was observed during the latest attempt by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“Greece has shown that it is not in favor of dialog as it rejected recent attempts [of mediation between Ankara and Athens],” the minister said. “We are in favor of negotiations but Greece is not there.”
Turkey and Greece are in dispute over the maritime jurisdiction areas in some parts of the eastern Mediterranean. Both countries accuse the other of violating its continental shelf and deployed a military buildup in the region, sparking concerns of an armed conflict between the two allies.
Greece seeks to maximize gains
Turkey is explaining its position concerning the ongoing disagreement with Greece in line with the international law by exposing how similar contentions have been resolved in the world as well as Greece’s handling similar issues with other littoral countries, Çavuşoğlu said.
“As they have lost ground both in the field and on the table and as they also lost psychological superiority, Greece has become more aggressive. Greece is not sincere and EU countries are also getting bored of it because it has taken [the EU] hostage,” Çavuşoğlu stated.
On Athens’ reaction against Turkey’s military exercise with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Çavuşoğlu invited his counterpart Nikos Dendias to act in a sincere way as “all the foreign ministers of the NATO countries know that the NATO rules are applied in such military drills.”
Turkey has long been criticizing Greece for running after some maximalist gains in the Aegean and Mediterranean, Çavuşoğlu said, “And we have not been raising this point just for blaming Greece. Is there any other country in the world claiming 40,000 square kilometers of maritime jurisdiction area for just a 10-square-kilometer island? Is there any other country that claims 10 miles airspace while its territorial waters are six miles?”
The minister did also draw the attention to other problems between Turkey and Greece and recalled that the Council of Europe has urged the latter to abide by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights over the rights of the Muslim minorities in the Western Thrace.
“Plus, the cases of the migrants. How many migrants had died because of [the Greek] actions? It’s not humane to leave them dead,” he said, more and more people do question now on Athens’s move about this issue.
Çavuşoğlu did also repeat Ankara’s reaction against Athens for accepting the asylum applications of many members of the FETÖ, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other terrorist organizations. “Today, the members of these terror organizations, the PKK, the FETÖ are freely walking in the streets of Athens,” he said.
A meeting between the military delegations of Greece and Turkey that was supposed to be held on Sept. 8 at NATO Headquarters, which was agreed in the conversation between NATO secretary general and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been further postponed to Sept.10, Turkish Defense Ministry’s sources said on condition of anonymity.
The request came from NATO’s side, said the sources.