Athens is reportedly wary of Ankara’s attempt to incorporate the migrant and refugee issue into the framework of confidence-building measures (CBMs) between the two countries.
In this light, recent accusation by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Greek authorities have mistreated migrants may be a bid by Ankara to pressure Athens into including the issue on the CBMs agenda.
According to sources, the issue was raised during a bilateral meeting between Greek Defense Ministers Nikos Panagiotopoulos and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on October 25.
The Turkish side pushed for the integration of certain aspects of the refugee problem in the confidence-building measures between the two countries. Ankara argued that these measures stipulate an exchange of military officials between the two countries to monitor refugee flows.
However, Panagiotopoulos reiterated Athens’ conviction that the armed forces may only play an exclusively auxiliary role in the management of the refugee issue. And to the end of avoiding any misinterpretation of Athens’ intentions, Panagiotopoulos reportedly explained Greece’s positions in detail.
Meanwhile, Greece’s recent activities on Cyprus have reportedly fueled resentment in Turkey, with sources saying that Akar appeared extremely annoyed by the Steel Arrow joint exercise, during which Greek F-16 fighter jets flew to the Eastern Mediterranean island.
Sources said Akar described the exercise as a “serious injury” to Greek-Turkish relations. As already revealed by an article in Kathimerini on October 24 Ankara sees Steel Arrow as a “stab in the back,” coming at a time when Turkey was operating in northern Syria.