ANKARA — A day after a communications breakdown that saw reports that Greece and Turkey would hold exploratory talks after four years – this time over claims to the Aegean and East Mediterranean – only for that to fall apart, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started sniping again.
He has repeatedly sent an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, only to withdraw them each time the European Union said it would consider sanctions demanded by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
With the bloc set to discuss that prospect in March, media outlets said there had been a breakthrough and that the two sides would sit down – in Ankara, not Athens – over their competing claims to the seas.
After Greece denied that was the case, catching the United States off guard as the State Department welcomed the talks that aren’t being scheduled yet, Erdogan blamed Greece for all the trouble.
While he has constantly sent fighter jets and warships to violate Greek airspace and waters, Erdogan accused Greece to raising tension over the seas battle, calling on Mitsotakis’ government to “cease activities… such as “airspace violations and illegal actions on the issue of the islands.”
Speaking to a meeting of European Union ambassadors in Ankara, Erdogan repeated earlier comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, stating that “certain EU member-states have tried to solve their bilateral differences in the corridors of the EU,” said Kathimerini.
“They have taken advantage of the EU’s agenda and hidden behind member-states’ solidarity,” the Turkish President said in what is being seen as a reference to Greece as well as Cyprus, where Turkey has been drilling for oil and gas offshore.
He said that Turkey has been “wronged” over the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus and “does not accept efforts to trap us in our coasts,” falling back on his usual tactic of verbal warfare.