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Politics

Taunts, Threats, Tweets: Now Turkey Wants Talks With Greece

October 14, 2022

ATHENS – Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who has been lobbing verbal bombs at Greece while demanding the removal of troops off Aegean islands, said now he’s ready to sit down and talk over their disputes.

He and Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos are the only officials between the countries reportedly talking with each other at any level after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke off all communications.

Erdogan is angry at Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for telling American lawmakers in May in addressing the US Congress to reject President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16’s and upgrade the Turkish Air Force.

The two defense chiefs, said Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah, met on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels where Akar told reporters he told Panagiotopoulos that problems can be resolved through international law, good neighborly relations, peaceful means and dialogue.

“At the meeting, I emphasized the importance of meeting more frequently and increasing dialogue within the framework of good neighborly relations,” he said, waving off a long line of taunts and tweets and even Erdogan’s threats to invade Greece and “come suddenly one night.”

Turkey is also upset that Mitsotakis is building an arsenal and making more allies to help protect Greece, including a mutual defense deal with France and buying French Rafale fighter jets and warships.

Tension has been soaring between the countries over Turkish provocations, including violating Greek airspace repeatedly, demand for demilitarization of islands near Turkey’s coast and Turkey’s claims over Greek waters.

Another sticking point has been Turkey’s deal with Libya dividing the seas between them – which no other country in the world recognizes – and Turkey’s plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands.

That has been the two NATO members at loggerheads but the defense alliance chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said he wants no part of it and praised Turkey as a “valuable ally,” even after Erdogan ok’d purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.

“It should be essential to resolve issues between Turkey and Greece without the need for any third party intervention,” said Akar, even as Turkey – its 17-year long hopes of joining the European Union stalled – has been cozying up to Russia.

“We believe that these works can start in the upcoming period. Our delegations went to Athens twice as part of the Confidence Building Measures Meeting. The Greek delegation came to Türkiye once. Therefore, we expressed that we expect the Greek delegation to come to Ankara for the fourth meeting. We hope to start such dialogues in the coming days,” he said.

He didn’t mention that none of those meetings went anywhere and were dead in the water with the two sides essentially engaging in meaningless chit-chat and making no progress in their differences.

“Everyone should know that taking sides will contribute not to the solution of issues, but to deadlock,” he said, according to the paper which is a mouthpiece for Erdogan’s policies.

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