NEWS

Greece responds to Erdogan's aggressive remarks ahead of Berlin meeting

Greece and Turkey have traded barbs a few hours ahead of the meeting on the situation in Libya in Berlin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again indulged in aggressive remarks early Sunday, before departing for Berlin. He claimed that Greece has “gone crazy” over not being invited to the Berlin meeting, and said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is taking “the wrong steps” by inviting Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, who is fighting against the UN-recognized Libya government at the head of the Libyan National Army, for talks in Athens.

Erdogan added that Mitsotakis is taking a wrong tack in bilateral relations with Turkey, despite being “talked to” by himself at the recent NATO Summit.

Greece's foreign ministry replied soon after to Erdogan: “as for taking the right steps, it is at least paradoxical, that the habitual violator of international law in our region tries to give lessons.”

“A constant concern for Greece is taking the staps that ensure security and stability in the region and not policymaking through groundless and provocative remarks,” the foreign ministry added.

Greece has warned the European Union that it would veto any decision taken in Berlin if the summit did not explicitly denounce a deal between the Libyan government and Turkey delineating maritime borders between the two non-neighboring countries in the Mediterranean. The deal has been criticized by, among others, the European Union, Egypt, Russia and the U.S., as well as Haftar, who has the backing of Libya's National Assembly.

It appears, though, that the Berlin meeting will not deal with the maritime borders issue, focusing instead on a peace deal in Libya. Greece also seems to have backed off from its veto threat, alluding that an expression by the EU of its disapproval of the deal could be enough.

Turkey has been asserting its right to exploit the Mediterranean for gas and oil reserves, contesting Cyprus' right to do so, at least within the present borders of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone. It has sent drilling ships in the area, accompanied by warships. This led Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to label Turkey “the regional pirate” in comments he made Sunday.

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