NEWS

Greek defense minister responds to comments from Turkish FM

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy

“The presence of Turkish drill ships in Greek waters is a violation of our national sovereignty and we will not allow it,” Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Monday.

The Greek defense minister also called Ankara out for claiming to have sought dialogue with Athens and meeting with silence, saying that dialogue is impossible “when Greece’s sovereign rights are being directly challenged.”

Speaking on Alpha television on Monday night, Panagiotopoulos was responding to comments made over the weekend by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“Let them try,” Cavusoglu had said in an interview with Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday when asked what Turkey’s response would be to any efforts by Greece to prevent exploratory drilling for hydrocarbon deposits. “No one will dare stop our drill ships… if they want an escalation, we will respond.”

The Turkish foreign minister also claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had “wanted” dialogue with the Greek government when it was elected last July, but Athens has been “unwilling” to engage in talks.

For the two sides to sit down together for talks, Panagiotopoulos responded, “Turkey would have to demonstrate a spirit of good neighborly relations and respect for international law.”

Turkey, he added, “is behaving like a regional troublemaker, mischief-maker or bully, and this is no way to hold talks.”

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