Greek PM doubts possibility of armed conflict with Turkey
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says his country is ready to negotiate and find a solution to their disagreement with Turkey.
The Greece-Turkey relations will not see a "worst-case scenario" of armed conflict, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a news conference on Saturday following controversial statements made by the Turkish leadership.
"No, I do not believe that we will have a 'hot episode.' I am concerned about Turkey's increased rhetoric. I urge Turkey to realize that turning foreign policy into a tool for intraparty use is not the right strategy," Mitsotakis said in Alexandroupolis, northern Greece when asked if a "worst-case scenario" in bilateral relations is possible.
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He noted that his country is ready to discuss and resolve "the only disagreement" with Turkey under international law.
"I hope that we have seen a crescendo of rhetoric with all these statements, that they will 'come one night to Greece,' and now the tone will be lowered," Mitsotakis said.
Greece will not be told "how to exercise its sovereignty and its sovereign rights," Mitsotakis added.
Greece also needs to "strengthen its armed forces" and containment projects, the prime minister noted, such as the 25-mile fence near the Evros River crossing at the border with Turkey, the construction of which has proven effective.
A couple of days ago, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias sent a letter to the EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell in which he requested that sanctions be imposed against Turkey due to the provocative behavior of the Turkish coast guard and the continued illegal fishing activities in Greek territorial waters.
Back in December, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar warned Greece not to get dragged too far when it comes to its actions in the Aegean Sea, stressing that there would be consequences if Athena arms Aegean islands and extends goes beyond its territorial waters. Ankara has on several occasions stressed that it would consider Greece expanding its territorial waters a reason for war.
Turkey believes such actions from Greece, which could see it doubling its 9.65 km territorial waters to 19.31 km, could cut off Turkish waters and deprive Ankara of accessing international waters, effectively trapping it in its territorial waters.
Greece has also reportedly been pressuring the US not to sell upgraded F-16 combat aircraft to Turkey, citing its own security concerns.
Read more: Turkey may turn to Russia if US blocks F-16 sales: Erdogan
In response, Erdogan has refused to communicate with Mitsotakis, accusing him of violating the agreements reached.
Greece and Turkey have been at odds over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean seas for years.
Turkey's president, meanwhile, recently accused Greece of "occupying" the Aegean islands, whose status was determined by treaties signed following World War I. Simultaneously, Athens accused Turkey of carrying out hundreds of illegal military sorties over the islands.
In violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey repeatedly accused Greece of deploying weapons to the Aegean islands in the Eastern Mediterranean. In August this year, Greece used S-300 air defense systems to lock a Turkish F-16 performing a reconnaissance mission near Rhodes.