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Erdogan Whines to Merkel, Blames Greece for Provocations

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, listens as Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, speaks during a joint press conference after a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt)

BERLIN -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Greece is the cause of tension over disputes to the seas that had raised tension almost to conflict levels before ratcheting down.

In a videoconference with the German leader, he told her that Greece “continues its immoral and illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea, but Turkey maintains its moderate attitude to preserve the positive agenda.”

That report came from Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu which writes positive stories about the autocratic leader who has had dozens of independent journalists jailed.

It cited Turkish Communications Directorate as a source, that agency under his total control, his complaints coming as Greece and Turkey remain at odds over the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

The European Union has three times backed away from any idea of putting sanctions on Turkey for planning to hunt for oil and gas off Greek islands, and having had earlier sent a research vessel and warships off Kastellorizo.

Erdogan has a friendly ear in Merkel, with Germany home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage and a major arms supplier to Turkey, which led her to reject Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' request for penalties over drilling plans.