ANKARA — Reaching out to Greece for dialogue after he sent an energy ship and warships off the island of Kastellorizo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threw a possible monkey wrench into the works when he accused Greece of “provocations and childish attitudes.”
Erdogan, whose rhetoric has grown more belligerent and alternated with offering to talk, said his country has always acted with the “dignity of righteousness” and will continue to “defend its legitimate rights,” which could undercut any dialogue.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) said he made the comments while speaking at an event at the Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, where he also said that his government would “not allow anyone to confine Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, to its coast.”
That was in reference to his open coveting of the return of Greek islands to Turkey ceded away in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn't accept, saying some were so close to Turkey's coast he could shout to them.
Turkey has for now withdrawn its ships but said they would return after maintenance on the energy research vessel Oruc Reis as a Sept. 24-25 showdown meeting looms with the European Union.
Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he wants hard and meaningful sanctions imposed for Turkey's incursion and repeated violations of Greek airspace and waters if he can't reach agreement with Erdogan before then.
Earlier, Erdogan ripped France, which is backing Greece in the East Mediterranean, asking whether asking whether it would return to “responsible policy” if Turkey backed down.
Speaking to members of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, the Turkish president also accused the EU of double standards, the news agency report said, although Greece is a member of the bloc and Turkey isn't.