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Changing Course, Turkey Rejects Seas Boundaries Talks With Greece

Αssociated Press

FILE- Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar addresses a meeting of his country's ambassadors, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

ANKARA -- A day after wanting to have negotiations with Greece over rights to the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Turkey now is - again - going the other way, putting the prospect of talks in limbo again.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that Greece has claimed waters in the seas for naval maneuvers that weren’t then held, issuing NAVTEX navigational warnings for no reason.

“When we tell (Greece) ‘Let’s talk,’ it doesn’t approach ... it goes door to door spreading its lies,” he said, again ratcheting up tension just when it seemed there could be a breakthrough leading to talks.

Greece’s ruling New Democracy said it will talk, however, only if Turkey doesn’t again send an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo as has happened repeatedly, putting the ships in and out.

For now, ships are being kept out after a Dec. 10-11 European Union meeting refused to agree to a demand from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to sanction Turkey over its provocations.

The EU - with Germany and other countries providing arms to Turkey in lucrative deals even though they could be used against Greece - said it wouldn’t even entertain sanctions talk until March.

That has led the representative of Turkey’s ruling party to say that the EU should back Turkey - on whom its security depends - over EU member Greece, an apparent reference to Turkey not flooding the bloc with more refugees and migrants even more.