NEW YORK – Changing tack from diplomacy that hasn’t worked, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ firebrand complaints at the United Nations about Turkish provocations and aggressions drew an immediate parry.
Mitsotakis accused Turkey of undermining peace and stability in the East Mediterranean region and playing a “destabilizing” role, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even warning he might invade “one night.”
Before Mitsotakis spoke, his New Democracy government complained to an unlistening United Nations and NATO about what it said was “inflammatory” rhetoric from Turkey, returned now in kind by Mitsotakis.
“Unfortunately this statement (by Mitsotakis) was yet another example of distortion of facts and hostile narrative against Turkey,” said Turkey’s delegation at the UN General Assembly, reported Al Jazeera.
“Turkey’s role in its region and beyond is well appreciated by the international community,” the delegation statement added, not noting criticism even from the United States over Turkey’s belligerence.
During his address, Mitsotakis said Turkey’s leadership “seems to have a strange fixation with my country,” with Erdogan becoming almost unhinged at times and no longer talking to the Greek leader.
“They threaten that Turkey will come at night if it so decides. This is the language of an aggressor. From the UN I would like to address … the Turkish people directly: ‘Greece poses no threat to your country. We are not your enemies, we are neighbors. Let us move forward,” he said.
Not noting Turkey’s claims to Greek seas and territories, the Turkish delegation said Turkey isn’t challenging Greece’s sovereignty, saying claims to the contrary are “false propaganda,” the report added.
“However, Turkey does challenge Greece to enter into an honest and meaningful dialogue in accordance with international law to address not one but all legally interrelated Aegean disputes,” it said.
Erdogan also accused Greece this week of “crimes against humanity”, referring to its treatment of refugees, and earlier this month of occupying islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarized status under international agreements.
He didn’t mention that Turkey is allowing human traffickers – without penalties – to keep sending refugees and migrants to Greek islands in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.