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Guns ‘n Roses Diplomacy for Greece, Turkey: Trading Shots Too

ATHENS – Greece and Turkey are continuing to alternate offers of diplomacy with tough talk and are now said to be trying to ratchet down the tension in their dispute over the seas and sovereignty.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and high-ranking officials have repeatedly cajoled, warned, and threatened Greece in claiming waters around Greek islands with plans to hunet for energy.

But they’ve also offered to negotiate – on their own terms – leading Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis to say he’s willing to talk but to fight also if it comes to that as relations are taut and bring fears of an accidental conflict.

Turkey upped the ante in sending more fighter jets into Greek airspace after Greece put on a show in sending the first French-made Rafale jets purchased in building an arsenal over the Acropolis.

Erdogan and Turkish officials were particularly irked by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou citing the genocide of Pontic Greeks a century earlier that Turkey said didn’t happen.

But with Erdogan now also saying he still wants Turkey to join the European Union – a bid that’s been going on since 2005 and gotten worse under his authoritarian government – he’s reaching out with kinder, gentler talk too.

But he’s also reverted to gunboat diplomacy language at times, befuddling Greek officials about how to handle the volatility and if he means what he says before he changes it.

Trying to cool the jets between the countries, the Greek-Turkish Joint Economic Committee is meeting Jan. 24  in Athens under Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Frangogiannis and Turkish Deputy Minister of Trade Mustafa Tuzcu, said Kathimerini.

There are also plans to try to have a 64th round of exploratory talks – the last recent two fizzled out into inconsequential chit-chats that went nowhere fast – after the first 61 negotiations also sputtered.

There are also plans, the paper said, to again try political dialogue at higher levels, the General-Secretariat of the foreign ministers although that has repeatedly failed as well.

But there’s no return seen to so-called Confidence Building Measures that have brought no confidence in them, between the defense ministries or with NATO, which said it wants no part of the troubles between the countries.

Greece reportedly believe that Turkey is putting up a false front and not a true face and is just putting on a show to try to convince the international community of sincerity in negotiations, the paper added.

While sweet talk was going on, it was noted that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Greece of sponsoring terrorists, and has constantly thrown fuel on the fire with incendiary remarks.

Still, the Greek-Turkish Joint Economic Committee will be completed with the signing of a protocol by Frangogiannis and Tuzcu, the report said, without adding what it would be or have any meaning.

The reactivation of the joint committee is one of the 25 items on the so-called positive agenda set between Frangogiannis and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal that began 22 years ago, in the year 2000.

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