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Politics

Mitsotakis Wants Tough Guy Turkey Contained, But Not Isolated

ATHENS – He’s insisted on European Union sanctions and called for an end to Turkish provocations, including fighter jets in Greek airspace, but Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that shouldn’t include cutting off Turkey.

Talking to SKAI TV, Mitsotakis referred to a March meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which they agreed to a detente to ramp down tension and be open for tourists in the summer.

Erdogan broke that deal almost immediately and now is not talking to Mitsotakis, infuriated that the Greek leader told the US Congress in an address to block President Joe Biden’s plan to sell more F-16s and upgrade Turkey’s Air Force, putting Greece at risk.

Mitsotakis’ pushback against Turkey’s belligerence and insisting that the international rule of law has to be followed has led to some reports that he wants Turkey isolated but it said those reports are “not an accurate analysis.”

After the earlier meeting this year, Erdogan said it was Mitsotakis who didn’t keep his word but the Greek leader said that he told Erdogan he would “not accept overflights over the Greek islands, nor the argument that links Greek sovereignty over the east Aegean islands with their alleged militarization.”

“If Mr. Erdogan did not understand what I told him, I am not responsible for that,” he said, with Turkey since warning it would be a cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime boundaries to 12 miles and demanding Greece take troops off Greek islands near Turkey’s coast.

Mitsotakis didn’t name Turkey in talking to American lawmakers but made it very clear he didn’t want the F-16 sales to proceed, drawing the ire of Erdogan who broke off most communications with Greece.

“I gave a speech which had very little reference to the issues of the Eastern Mediterranean, but these issues were obviously raised at the bilateral level. I raised them and I will continue to raise them, as I raise them at the level of the European Union,” he said

But Mitsotakis said that Greece can’t block the sale of weapons systems to Turkey indefinitely even if they could be used in a conflict and Greece renewed a military cooperation deal with the US that will see a bigger American presence and more bases in the country.

He said that Greece has shown the US Congress that, “sale of weapons systems to a NATO member country which is currently a source of instability in the southeastern flank of NATO and which openly challenges the sovereignty of another NATO member country is not in the interest of the United States itself.”

Biden though said that it is even though Turkey bought Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that undermine the security of the defense alliance and refused to go along with EU sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

 

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