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Politics

Turkey’s Ambassador Wants Trust With Greece Despite Tensions

ATHENS – Turkey’s Ambassador to Greece said the countries must find a way to build trust with each other instead of using other countries as buffers against provocations but said the waters between them remain disputed.

Speaking at the Thessaloniki Summit 2021, Burak Ozugergin said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who have resumed talking after not speaking for months, should continue dialogue, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA.)

That hasn’t worked because Erdogan has alternated between calling for diplomacy and belligerent talk about a Turkish Blue Homeland that imagines Turkey has control of much of the Aegean and East Mediterranean, and as it’s already been drilling for energy off Cyprus and plans to do the same around Greek islands.

He also said the other big bugaboo between them, how to control six years of refugees and migrants fleeing their homelands and using Turkey to get to Greece, and hopefully other European Union countries, has to be resolved.

He didn’t mention that Erdogan regularly threatens to unleash thousands, if not millions of them unless the EU fulfills an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal by sending another 3 billion euros ($3.47 billion.)

He also wants visa-free travel for Turks in the bloc and a faster-track entry process for Turkey to join the EU although he’s been jailing journalists and purged civil society, the military, courts and education sector after a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

Turkey has complained about Greece making deals to get French warships and fighter planes as a response to Turkey buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that also undermine NATO, to which Greece and Turkey belong.

Ozugergin said that Turkey accepts United States assurances that American investments in Alexandroupoli port are not related to Turkey after complaining bitterly about them.

As for the idea of the International Court in The Hague to settle a feud over over Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) that each country claims in the seas he said that, “We cannot speak of continental shelves in the Aegean without knowing where the territorial waters end,” which is the point of the difference.

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