Berlin changes course over Turkey threats

After initially keeping a distance, Scholz calls on Ankara to refrain from provoking Greece

Berlin changes course over Turkey threats

In the wake of dismay expressed in Athens at its perceived neutrality in the face of Turkish escalations against Greece, Berlin saying that Turkey’s overflights above Greek islands are unacceptable.

A spokesperson for the German government told a regular news conference in Berlin on Wednesday that Chancellor Olaf Scholz “is of the opinion that, given the current situation, it is necessary for all NATO allies to stand together and refrain from provocations between themselves.”

“Invading Greek airspace and flying over Greek islands is not OK, it seems counterproductive and against the spirit of the alliance,” added the spokesperson, who stressed that Germany is committed to resolving the open questions between Greece and Turkey in private dialogue, and on the basis of international law. However, he insisted that “we cannot accept the questioning of the sovereignty of member-states of the European Union.”

Apart from the constant violations and incendiary rhetoric emanating from Ankara, Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, have warned Greece to demilitarize its islands in the eastern Aegean or else have their sovereignty called into question by Turkey.

The change in Berlin’s stance came after the meeting on Tuesday between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the German chancellor, but also after the emphatic and very clear statement of French President Emmanuel Macron in defense of Greece’s sovereignty in the face of Turkey’s threats.

Meanwhile, the Greek government is taking a wait-and-see stance, stating it will not be lured into an escalation with Turkey by the rhetoric of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government officials who follow the same pattern. Erdogan in particular said on Wednesday that he told colleagues to stop holding bilateral talks with Greece.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexandros Papaioannou said on Wednesday Greece’s foreign policy “is based on specific values, principles, respect for international law and the law of the sea.”

“These values and these principles will continue to be our guide,” he said, adding that Greece will never go ad hominem on Turkey.

“We respond [to any provocations] with prudence and moderation [and] on the basis of international law, and at the same time we inform our partners and allies about developments,” he said.

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