Duvar English – Reuters
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on September 11 that Athens would try to keep lines of communication open with Ankara despite recent “unacceptable” comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Mitsotakis’ comments came after Erdoğan accused Greece of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea, saying Turkey was ready to “do what is necessary” when the time comes.
“I consider the recent statements by the Turkish president as unacceptable,” Mitsotakis told a news conference in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
“However, we will always try to keep communication channels open,” he said, adding that he had always been open to meeting Erdoğan.
Mitsotakis said Erdoğan is using “nationalism” and Ankara has “raised tensions” ahead of Turkey’s upcoming general elections.
“Contrary to Erdoğan’s statements, it is Turkey that poses a threat to the (Aegean) islands,” he added.
Turkey was recently angered by what it said was harassment of its planes by Greek forces. Ankara said S-300 air defense systems used by Greece locked on Turkish planes during a routine flight.
As Erdoğan prepares for what promises to be the biggest electoral challenge of his nearly 20-year rule in 2023, the president has been highlighting the achievements on the world stage. He also stepped up his rhetoric on foreign policy.
Ankara claims the Aegean islands were given to Greece under the 1923 and 1947 treaties on condition that it not arm them. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has repeatedly said that Turkey will begin to question Greek sovereignty over the islands if Athens persists in arming them.