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Politics

Greece Has Game Plan Ready Against Turkey at NATO Showdown

ATHENS – A NATO meeting in Madrid June 29-30 looks set to be a heavyweight match between Greece and Turkey with all eyes on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the ring – if they talk.

Erdogan has said that Mitsotakis “doesn’t exist” for him and broke off most communications between the countries – their defense ministers met – the Turkish leader upset that the Greek premier urged the US Congress, in an address, to reject President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16’s.

Those could be used against Greece in a conflict, with anxiety cranked up over Turkish provocations including sending fighter jets into Greek airspace, demanding Greece take troops off Aegean islands, planning to hunt for energy off Greek islands and saying that it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles.

Read more: Mitsotakis: It Is Up to Turkey to De-Escalate the Tension

While Mitsotakis said he still wants to try diplomacy and dialogue, which have failed against Erdogan, he said he still hopes they will talk at some point, and the NATO meeting is a perfect setting.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has refused to intervene and largely sided with Turkey, even supporting Erdogan’s vow to veto any entry hopes into the defense alliance of Sweden and Finland, European Union countries.

Mitsotakis – who has been building foreign alliances against Turkey, adding to Greece’s arsenal and resigned a military cooperation deal with the US – is ready for a confrontation if it comes to that, said Kathimerini.

After Germany gave him only timid support over Erdogan’s refusal to talk – then stepped up – Mitsotakis wants the European Council, which makes up the leaders of the 27 bloc countries – to stand by him and Greece.

“Athens is fully covered by the draft conclusions, which clearly asks Turkey to stop disputing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of EU countries and return to a process of de-escalation,” said Mitsotakis in Brussels at an EU meeting.

“I really hope that Turkey will listen this time because only in this way will it be possible to reduce the tension that has been created in the Eastern Mediterranean over the past two months, for which the neighboring country is to blame,” he said, the paper reported.

Turkey – Erdogan, like Mitsotakis, faces elections in 2023 – has stepped up the tension after warning Greece’s refusal to demilitarize islands near Turkey’s coast could bring a military response, ratcheting up worry.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay insisted that “if the demilitarization of the islands in the Aegean is not done soon, we will challenge the sovereignty of the islands under international law and agreements.”

He didn’t mention that Turkey doesn’t recognize those laws and agreements unless citing to its advantage, while Erdogan has openly coveted return of islands ceded to Greece in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t accept.

In a joint press conference with Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, Oktay blamed Mitsotakis, calling him “the prime minister of a country that is militarizing the Aegean islands, blatantly violating international agreements.”

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