Despite the declaration Thursday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he is ready for a direct dialogue with Greece, the message conveyed by Ankara’s remains contradictory given the harsh language aimed at President Katerina Sakellaropoulou by the Turkish Foreign Ministry Thursday and continued overflights by fighter jets in the Aegean.
“I sincerely believe that as two neighboring countries we can resolve our issues through a direct and constructive dialogue,” he said in comments during a reception for the ambassadors of all European Union member-states.
In a bid to separate Greek-Turkish issues from Turkey-EU relations, Erdogan stressed that the undermining of Turkey-EU relations must be prevented, under the pretext of solidarity. “In order to do that, some members must abandon their efforts to resolve their problems with Turkey through the path of the Union,” he said, recalling that the effort to create dialogue mechanisms between Greece and Turkey began in 2021.
Greece has insisted that Athens is in principle in favor of dialogue within the existing framework, which are the exploratory contacts, the political dialogue at the level of foreign ministry general secretaries, the confidence-building measures and the positive agenda of financial measures. Athens has made it clear that it does not want to shift the discussions to a level that goes beyond the framework set by international law and the European acquis.
However, while Erdogan called for dialogue with Greece, Ankara said Thursday it regretted “baseless claims” by the Greek president during an event to present the design for the new Hall for the Global Pontian Greeks of Sourmena, where she described the killings of Pontic Greeks as a genocide.
“These allegations do not change the very fact that it was Greece that attempted to invade and occupy Anatolia, and that the Greek army committed barbaric crimes against humanity, especially against innocent civilians in the Western Anatolian region,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. The Greek Foreign Ministry responded saying that Turkey “unfortunately, once again distorts reality and hides not only what happened in the past but also its ongoing policy, which violates international law on a daily basis, creating tensions and poisoning the climate between the two countries.”
Sakellaropoulou had said that the “tragic end” of the Pontic Greek presence in Anatolia, “with the methodical and systematic genocide with persecutions, massacres, attempts at violent Islamization and unspeakable barbarism, uprooted them from their ancestral homes.”