ATHENS – There wasn’t any indication it would be accepted but Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, trying to dial down the heat between them, said he’s ready to talk to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been piling on the provocations.
“They will always find me ready to extend a hand of friendship. We don’t have any room for further needless sources of tension,” Mitsotakis said, adding that differences must be resolved peacefully.
“That is what our people want, that is what the Greek people want, that is what the Turkish people want, that is what all of Europe wants,” he said, a reference to the anguish over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Erdogan has openly threatened an invasion in his fury over Greece refusing to remove troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast, which would leave them open to takeover.
He also said it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles and that he would again send an energy research vessel and warship off Greek islands to hunt for oil and gas.
Turkey – a member of NATO along with Greece – has also repeatedly sent fighter jets into Greek airspace and openly challenged the sovereignty of Greek lands and seas.
He also isn’t talking to Mitsotakis, angry that the Greek leader – in an address to the United States Congress in May – asked the American lawmakers to veto President Joe Biden’s plan to sell more F-16’s to Turkey and upgrade the Turkish Air Force.
“My wish is that, even with delay, our neighbors will choose the road of de-escalation, of legality, of peaceful coexistence without rhetorical outbursts but with constructive actions,” Mitostakis said after meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Athens.
“It should not be that NATO partners question each other’s sovereignty,” Scholz said in a brief joint press conference with Mitsotakis after their meeting. “All issues must be resolved through dialogue and on the basis of international law. And we are very much in agreement on that.”
Mitsotakis said it was “truly a shame” that Erdogan “can’t see that he is walking into a dead end when he poisons his people with lies against Greece. Because our neighbors and all our allies know that the Greek islands do not threaten anyone.”
The German Chancellor said it was “in the interest of all neighbors” to exploit the economic potential of the Mediterranean “for the benefit of their respective populations. I got the impression in my conversation that Greece is very willing to do this. And we can and should have confidence in that.”
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)