Athens avoiding dialogue to solve east Med crisis: Ankara
Turkey accepted a NATO initiative to calm down tension in the eastern Mediterranean, but the Greek side rejected the proposal for an unconditional meeting, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sept. 4.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg asked for launching technical talks about the conflict in the eastern Mediterranean and Ankara accepted the initiative, Çavuşoğlu told reporters.
The proposal was a meeting of Turkish and Greek ministers in the mediation of NATO, the Greek side was initially positive for the offer but then rejected, said Çavuşoğlu.
“NATO secretary-general asked Greece for his opinion. Greece said ‘okay’. After saying okay, NATO made the statement,” Çavuşoğlu said elaborating on a NATO statement on Sept. 3, which announced the establishment of technical talks between Athens and Ankara.
“Its denial of NATO is truly exemplary,” he said adding that Greeks show they were not in favor of dialogue by lying about NATO’s mediation.
“Greece denied [statement of] NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg. Greece itself is lying. Greece has shown that it is not in favor of dialogue,” he stated.
“The European Union countries also know that Greece is wrong, France provoking Greece. Macron was confused about what to do,” the minister said.
“Who provokes Greece the most? France. France also has another problem. Otherwise, what does it have to do in the eastern Mediterranean,” Çavuşoğlu said.
NATO said on Sept. 3 that Greece and Turkey had agreed to talks to ease their dispute over eastern Mediterranean borders and energy rights, but Athens swiftly denied any deal on negotiations. Alliance chief Stoltenberg said he had won the two neighbors’ agreement to enter “technical talks” designed to avert an accident between their navies that could trigger a broader conflict.
A Greek frigate collided with a Turkish frigate in August and the two NATO members staged rival war games in the energy-rich but disputed region last week.
Following my discussions with Greek and Turkish leaders, the two allies have agreed to enter into technical talks at NATO to establish mechanisms for military deconfliction to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the eastern Mediterranean,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.
“Greece and Turkey are valued allies and NATO is an important platform for consultations on all issues that affect our shared security.”
But later Greece denied it had agreed to hold NATO-brokered talks with Turkey.
“Published information claiming Greece and Turkey have agreed to hold ‘technical talks’ on de-escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean do not correspond to reality,” Greece’s Foreign Ministry said.
“De-escalation will only take place with the immediate withdrawal of all Turkish vessels from the Greek continental shelf,” the ministry added.