ANKARA — Upset at being upstaged during a news conference after they talked in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias blindsided him with critical comments.
The two, who are close personally and went out to dinner later, clashed before reporters during a joint news conference in Ankara on April 15 that saw Dendias used undiplomatic language to assail Turkey for violations of Greece’s sovereignty and plans to drill for energy off Greek islands.
In an interview with Haberturk TV, Cavusoglu said Dendias “did not behave honestly” during the unusually tense press conference and that the Greek minister broke his word not to reveal what they discussed in private.
News conferences by the ministers are designed to be nicety-nice events in which each side praises the other for progress that’s not being made but using diplomatic language to spin that it is.
Cavusolgu added that although “this first meeting was not easy… it took place in a more positive atmosphere than we expected,’ after Dendias went to Turkey on orders from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to be blunt.
“We are ready to take steps to solve the problems. Everyone saw this at the meeting,” said Cavusoglu, undercutting his own criticism of Dendias and with the two sides far apart on any potential resolution of disputes over rights to the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
Mitsotakis had backed off demands for European Union sanctions for Turkey’s energy hunt plans in and around Greek waters, which led to the bloc not only pulling away from them but reportedly offering Turkey billions of euros more to contain refugees and migrants from reaching Greek islands and the EU.
That put the Greek leader on the spot with reports that Erdogan was winning over the EU with a charm offense while simultaneously talking tough and offering diplomacy, which Greece had said was a ruse for pretense.