ATHENS – So much for diplomacy.
While they’ve generally gotten along well personally – with some diversions for tough language, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu issued a blistering attack in Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias during a TV interview, mocking and belittling him.
“They (Greece and its allies Cyprus, Egypt etc.) meet from time to time. Greece complains about Turkey at every meeting. (Dendias) says he called two or three foreign ministers a day and complained about Turkey. The Greek foreign minister is still crying like a child. This is traumatic. He has to cry to at least five people a day and complain about Turkey. Look at his tweets, saying Turkey is an aggressor and such. This is an attitude stemming from an inferiority complex and fear,” Cavusoglu told CNN Turk.
That was a continuation of Turkey’s attacks on Greece for making energy deals with Egypt and Cyprus, where Turkey has been unlawfully drilling offshore for gas and oil while ignoring soft European Union sanctions.
Cavusoglu, who was upbraided previously by Dendias during a joint news conference after they met, a rare departure from non-committal diplomatic talk, opened both barrels on his counterpart.
Speaking about Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system that undermines NATO, where Turkey and Greece are members, he said Greece was unduly alarmed despite worries it could also be used in a conflict between them.
“When (Greeks) seize our rights, we do what’s necessary on the field and at the table. We have shown this. We’ll show it again. The balance of power (in the Aegean and East Mediterranean) will not change,” Cavusoglu said.
That purchase led the United States, which wants to keep good relations, to otherwise suspend Turkey from getting the American-made F-35 fighter jet that could also put Greece, which has F-16s, at a military disadvantage.
He said that Turkey “must get the F-35” advanced fighter from the US, and warned that if not that Turkey would turn again to Russia, the ideological enemy of NATO and that “We will consider buying Su-57 or Su-35 (fighter jets) instead.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg admitted he won’t intervene over Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters and wants no part of confronting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has made him and the EU often back down.