Effort under way to open communication channels

Greek, Turkish defense ministers expected to meet on sidelines of Thursday’s NATO summit

Effort under way to open communication channels

Amid the recent escalation between Greece and Turkey and the ominous threats emanating from Ankara, both countries’ ministers of national defense, Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Hulusi Akar respectively, will hold a brief meeting on Thursday on the sidelines of the NATO Ministerial Summit in Brussels in an effort to keep channels of communication open.

Panagiotopoulos’ program does not include a scheduled meeting with Akar, however it is clear that there is the mood for a conversation, even for a limited time, in order to send the message that despite the rhetorical tension on the part of Ankara, the channels at the level of national defense ministers are open. 

A positive signal to this end was also apparently emitted by Ankara on Tuesday, despite a verbal confrontation between Akar and Greek lawmakers during a NATO parliamentary committee meeting in Istanbul.

In short, there appears to be mutual will for the meeting at the highest levels of both governments. The content of the talks between Panagiotopoulos and Akar has not been specified.

Meanwhile, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Christian Wagner, said on Wednesday that recent Turkish government statements against Greece “do not help the constructive dialogue and stability in the region.”

“The aggressive rhetoric, especially, as well as Turkish violations of Greek airspace, give cause for concern,” he said. 

Wagner made the comment in response to a question regarding the meeting held on Tuesday in Berlin between German, French, US, British and Turkish officials.

The German government, he said, “is working hard with partners for dialogue and de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean.” 

Regarding Germany’s position on the militarization of the Greek islands, Wagner cited an excerpt from a statement by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, which said that “Greece plays an important role when it comes to the security of the Mediterranean region.”

“At a time when Europe’s security order is fundamentally challenged by President Putin, we must stand united as NATO allies and European partners. Problems must be solved through discussion and not through escalation of tensions,” the statement said.

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