The foreign minister of Germany chastised Turkey on Friday for questioning the sovereignty of Greek islands close to Turkey’s shore and asked Greece to ensure that it stopped any unauthorized pushbacks of migrants and refugees at the border.
“Yes, many questions of international law are complicated, but some are also very simple. Greek islands ‒ Lesvos, Chios, Rhodes and many, many others ‒ are Greek territory, and no one has the right to raise questions over that,” Baerbock told reporters after talks in Athens with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
According to Turkey, which conducts frequent military overflights over Greek islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, the sovereignty of these islands can be disputed if Greece maintains a military presence there. The assertion is dismissed by Athens.
Earlier, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that neither Greece nor the EU can accept Turkish provocations and sovereignty challenges.
Both Mitsotakis and Dendias later referred to Greece’s principled stance on revisionism, explaining Greece’s position on Ukraine and why Turkey should not be allowed to lead the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean down a similar path.
Dendias raised the issue of the pending German war reparations for Greece and the sale of Type 214 submarines to Turkey.
He pointed out that the German-built Type 214 submarines that have been constructed in Istanbul in recent years are weapons systems that “risk changing the balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean and changing this balance in favor of a country that, although it is a member of NATO, has issued a threat of war, a casus belli, against Greece.”
Dendias also stressed that Turkey “violates our sovereignty, violates our sovereign rights and not only the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Greece, but also of other states – a country that illegally occupies the territory of an EU member-state, the Republic of Cyprus.” He also accused Turkey of trampling on “human rights, women’s rights, the rights of the press.”
As for the war reparations issue, Baerbock made an ambiguous statement, saying that, “unlike Germany, the Greek government does not consider this legal issue to be closed.”
She said the basis of good friendship is frank discussion. “And I think we have a good discussion, a good basis on which we can build further,” she added
Referring to asylum seekers’ rights, she said they must be protected at the EU’s external frontiers.
“We must uphold the values on which the European Union was built. We… must do more to ensure that people are safe and that there are no human rights violations at the border, and for me this includes illegal pushbacks. We are not there yet,” said Baerbock.