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Politics

After Firing Shots at Greece, Turkish Defense Chief Wants Talk

ANKARA – Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has done a U-turn on relations with Greece, now wanting dialogue after repeatedly hurling threats and raising provocations between the countries to near-conflict level.

He said the disputes over the seas and other issues could be solved through diplomacy instead of the usual bombast he’s been spouting, Turkey going back-and-forth over its approach.

“We believe that problems can be resolved through mutual negotiations and dialogue. We persist in this approach. But on the other hand, everyone should know that we will not allow a fait accompli or an undesirable situation in any way,” Akar said, reported Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah.

He added that Turkey always follows a “responsible, prudent, and patient” policy to ensure peace and stability, at odds with some of his previous belligerent statements that included taunts.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has broken off all communications with Greece in his fury over Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asking the United States Congress to reject President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16’s, he has allowed Akar to talk to Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

That saw the two defense chiefs meet on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels and Akar said: “We openly expressed our feelings and thoughts to them. We stated that for a comprehensive and permanent solution, we need to meet and maintain the dialogue.

“We stated that within the framework of good neighborly relations, these problems can be solved within international law. We still believe that our problems can be solved by talking and meeting as two neighbors, two allies, and with sincere dialogue, without getting third parties involved in this regard.”

He said that Turkey is not a threat to anyone, rather it is a “strong, reliable, and effective” ally, not mentioning the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile systems that undermine NATO and could be used against Greece.

Turkey has demanded that Greece remove troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast, citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne it doesn’t recognize, has kept sending F-16s into Greek airspace, and said it would send an energy research vessel off Greek islands and disputes Greece’s sovereignty.

And while Akar said he wants to talk, Erdogan said he might even okay an invasion of Greece, smirking that, “We may come suddenly one night” without giving a timeframe although Greece is now armed to the teeth.

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