ATHENS – Former Greek foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos, who was known as an outspoken loose cannon for the former PASOK Socialists, stoked growing fires between Greece and Turkey when he said “the only good Turk is a dead Turk” on a radio show.
Pangalos, who has gone after a range of targets in his career, including Germany, was speaking on SKAI radio after a Turkish patrol boat rammed a Greek Coast Guard vessel near the disputed rocky islet of Imia where the two countries almost went to war in 1996 and as tension in the Aegean is ramping up.
During the interview, Pangalos argued that Greece faced a “huge” problem with Turkey. “The enemy is relentless and will not be overcome, regardless of how much good faith we show,” he said.
“The only good Turk is a dead Turk. I believe this because I have not come across a good Turk. They lack basic appreciation. The Turk does not have a sense for justice,” he said, partially echoing comments from Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras he’s having problems dealing with what he called an “aggressive” Turkey.
Pangalos was Greece’s foreign chief from 1996-99 and had said during his tenure that Germany, now the biggest lender in three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($402.46 billion), was “a giant with bestial force and a child’s brain” and accused Turkey of “dragging its bloodied boots across the carpets of Europe.”
He sparked a backlash in 2010, when he claimed that there was shared responsibility between politicians and citizens for the Greek crisis. “We ate it [the money] all together,” he said at the time.
In 2013, he claimed Greece had been eavesdropping on US ambassadors in Athens and Ankara in the late 1990s.
This comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who came to Athens in December, 2017 in a bid to cool tensions and meet Tsipras, instead fired a warning to Greece, Cyprus and international companies exploring for gas in the Mediterranean not to “step out of line” and encroach on Turkey’s rights even though Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus, the Law of the Seas and wants a share of any energy finds off Cyprus, where it has unlawfully occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion.
Turkey opposes the oil drilling, saying it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots. Many in Turkey also accuse Greece of laying claims on uninhabited islets near Turkey’s Aegean coastline.
“Opportunistic attempts concerning gas exploration off Cyprus and concerning Aegean islets are not escaping our attentions,” Erdogan said. “We are warning those who step out of line with miscalculations in Cyprus and the Aegean,” he added.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)