Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his dreams of hegemony in the broader region for the recent escalation in tension between the two countries.
In an interview to Germany's Spiegel, Kotzias said that the Turkish leader has entered a phase of nervousness, accusing him of arrogance and of thinking he can do whatever he wants in the region. He added that there is no question of a border change with Turkey, citing rule of international law and Greece's defense capabilities.
Turkey, he said, is trying to take out its domestic nervousness on Greece which must not get dragged into a “game of chicken.” He added that Erdogan is preoccupied with pursuing Turkey's energy claims, albeit illegally, in the eastern Mediterranean
Relations between Athens and Ankara have been strained and acrimonious over the two Greek soldiers that are being held in Turkey since last month and the eight Turkish servicemen that fled to Greece in 2016 in the aftermath of the botched coup attempt and whom Ankara wants extradited.
The two issues are not connected, Kotzias said as Greece did not arrest the eight Turkish servicemen. They asked for asylum, he said, adding that this is in contrast with the case of the two Greek soldiers who are not asking for asylum in Turkey and were arrested against their will.
In contrast to the tough language used by Greece's Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Kotzias says Greece must remain calm. He added that Turkey's behavior had changed ever since the failed coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan in 2016.
The problem with Turkey, he insisted, are its geostrategic and geopolitical claims