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Politics

After Backing Turkey, NATO Chief Now Backs Greece Too

ΑΤΗΕΝS – After calling Turkey – which has been violating Greek airspace and ramping up tension to near-conflict levels – a “valuable ally” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Greece is valuable ally too.

That came afer he said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had legitimate reasons to call Sweden and Finland terrorist harbors that could see Turkey veto their entry into NATO.

In an exclusive interview with Greece’s state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) he repeated American talking points that Greece was a pillar of stability in the region and NATO’s southeast wing.

Despite that, Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian Prime Minister pilloried for his lapses in responding to a mass killing on an island in his country in 2011, admitted he wants no part of the feud between Turkey and Greece over rights to the seas and other issues and won’t intervene.

Speaking cautiously, he said the two countries should engage in dialogue although Erdogan refuses to talk to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and broke off all communcation with Greece, a fellow NATO country.

Apparently trying to play up Greece after tilting toward Turkey he shifted to other general issues, noting that, “Greek ports are important hubs for Allied naval forces, as shown for example by the deployment of US and French aircraft carriers to Greek waters earlier this year.”

He added though that, “We have lately been witnessing an increasingly destabilizing role played by one ally, Türkiye, that is dangerously raising the tension in the region by repeated menacing statements against Greek sovereignty over Greek islands in the Aegean.” He said that also includes “ numerous provocative overflights of armed aircraft not only deep into Greek national airspace, but literally over inhabited Greek islands and by an increased flow of illegal migrant movements towards Greece’s borders once again. “

What’s he doing about it?

“Would it not be reasonable to assume that NATO is currently employing every possible effort to dissuade Türkiye from continuing these incomprehensible and dangerous practices?” without saying what they were.

He was careful as well to use the new name of Turkey that was approved by the United Nations but rarely used despite that and said that it was normal to assume there would be differences even between allies.

“Both Greece and Türkiye have been committed allies for decades. And every day, Greece and Türkiye work together in NATO, along with 28 other Allies, to address the most pressing security challenges,” he said, although Turkey recently refused to take part in military exercies where Greece was involved.

Acknowledging there’s a risk of a conflict that’s growing over Turkis provocations and belligerence, he said that, “In the past there have been accidents involving Greek and Turkish forces and we must do everything we can to help reduce the risk of such accidents in the future.”

He noted in 2020 NATO helped establish a military deconfliction mechanism between Greece and Türkiye to reduce the risk of incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean, which failed.

While he said Erdogan had concerns about Sweden and Finland joining – Turkey refused to go along with European Union sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – he said those countries could face Russian aggression.

“How does NATO contemplate, on one hand, that it will convince Türkiye to lift the obstacles it poses and, on the other, assist these two valuable NATO applicant partners to maintain an acceptable level of assurances about their safety in their new, unexpectedly delicate, current “limbo” security situation?” he asked.

He didn’t answer his own question.

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