Turkish, Greek defence ministers emphasize dialogue to ease tensions

Turkish, Greek defence ministers emphasize dialogue to ease tensions

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar met with his Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos at the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels and discussed maintaining dialogue to ease recently heightened tensions, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry also said the two discussed keeping communication lines open to solve problems and that focusing on positive bilateral agendas contributes to good neighbourly relations.

Long-existing tensions between the neighbouring countries flared up again recently, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan saying that Greece should stop arming islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarised status and abide by international agreements.

Ankara says the Aegean islands were given to Greece under the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris treaties on condition it does not arm them.

Athens has said that Turkey’s remarks about it arming the islands are unfounded. The two countries, which are NATO members but have long been at odds over a range of issues, have both sent letters to the United Nations outlining their rival positions on airspace and the islands.

Erdogan said last month that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, accusing the Greek leader of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.

Last week, Erdogan announced that Turkey was halting all bilateral talks with Greece that started in 2021.

Mitsotakis said on Tuesday Turkey’s position that questions Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands is “absurd,” and renders any talks between the two countries difficult.

He also said the two leaders would inevitably meet at some point and they should not stop talking to each other. 


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