Turkish Defense Minister Says Greece Doesn't Want War Over Seas Dispute

Αssociated Press

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool , FILE)

ANKARA -- Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Greeks don't want an armed conflict over his country's constant provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean and plans to drill for energy off Crete.

“I want to underline in a mathematical certainty that Greeks would not want to stage a war with Turkey,” Akar told the private broadcaster A Haber in an interview, responding to Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos who said Greece is ready for a fight if it comes to it, to defend sovereign waters.

Akar described that as “a slip of tongue,” apparently trying down to ratchet the tension that increased over a deal Turkey made with Libya dividing the seas between them and claiming waters near Greek islands, including Rhodes as well.

He said Turkey wants good relations without explaining why if that's the case there are repeated violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and warships that has increased anxieties.

“We had three rounds of talks with our Greek partners. Two in Athens and one in Ankara. We are renewing our calls for holding the fourth meeting in Ankara,” the minister stated, said the Turkish newspaper The Daily Hurriyet.

Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he doesn't recognize the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that set borders between the countries and ceded islands to Greece, Akar said of Greece: “They cite the Lausanne Treaty. Yes, we also want to abide by the Lausanne Treaty. Greece is arming 16 out of 23 islands in the Aegean which must preserve their demilitarized status, according to Lausanne. Is talking about it a threat?” he also asked.

There is no country, except for Greece, which claims a 10-mile air space while it has six-mile territorial waters, Akar said, adding, “We are trying to preserve our calmness against this kind of assertive claims by Greece.”