ATHENS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wouldn’t intervene over Turkish violations of Greek airspace repeatedly, but an unnamed alliance official said the two countries can settle their differences over the seas and other issues by using diplomacy that hasn’t worked.
Stoltenberg earlier had also called Turkey a “valuable ally,” which critics said indicated he was tilting toward that country and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said he would block the entry of Sweden and Finland without concessions.
He spoke to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency after Turkey complained that Greek fighter jets tried to interfere in a NATO training mission over the Aegean Sea as Turkey tries to shift blame onto Greece.
“The Mediterranean (Sea) is of vital importance for NATO and we urge Greece and Turkiye to solve any differences in the Aegean (Sea) by diplomatic means and in a spirit of allied solidarity,” an unidentified official said.
Erdogan though has said openly that Turkey could invade Greece at any time and has short-range ballistic missiles that could hit Athens in 7.6 minutes without any rebuke from the alliance.
The official – it wasn’t said why Stoltenberg didn’t speak for NATO – reminded there’s a “military de-confliction mechanism” that’s been in place since 2020 and has done nothing to cut the tension.
“At a time when Russia’s war on Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, it is even more important for Allies to stand together,” the statement added, without noting that Turkey bought Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that undermine NATO and could be used against Greece in a conflict.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said that a “necessary response” was given after the allegations of trying to interfere in a NATO training mission in international airspace over the Aegean Sea without offering any proof.
“Combat and support aircraft of our Air Force and the AWACS aircraft commissioned by NATO performed the NEXUS ACE training mission, which was notified to all allies 24 hours in advance, in international airspace over the Aegean Sea on Monday,” the ministry also said.