Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Greece of accelerating its “maximalist policies” and raising tension in the Aegean, while calling on Athens to avoid any “unilateral actions.”
During a video message to a conference on the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean in Izmir, Erdogan said that “instead of making a meaningful contribution to our well-meaning efforts, Greece has accelerated its maximalist policies.”
Referring to migration, he said that “while the refugee crisis could have led to cooperation between the two countries, this historical opportunity was wasted due to Greece’s uncompromising attitude,” according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
On boarder issues related to the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, he claimed that Turkey has “taken care not to be the party that increases the tension until now.”
“We acted calmly in the face of the violation of the non-military status of the islands in the maritime jurisdiction areas and in the steps of our neighbor Greece… which increased the tension. We gave priority to solving our problems through dialogue and negotiation,” Erdogan said.
Addressing the same conference earlier on Thursday, Turkish Defense Minster Hulusi Akar also took a swing at Athens but also at Nicosia, saying that Ankara will take “every necessary step” to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the occupied north of the island.
“No project that ignores and disrespects Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the Mediterranean can succeed,” he said, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
“We will carry on our activities in areas where we have rights,” Akar said, referring to energy plans off the coast of Cyprus.
He also reiterated calls for a two-state solution.
Addressing Greece in particular, he dismissed any plans to extend its territorial waters as “empty dreams.”