Minister says channels of dialogue to Turkey open

Minister says channels of dialogue to Turkey open

Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis said on Thursday that Greece is maintaining dialogue with Turkey but that the country's armed forces are on standby.

“Diplomacy is the first choice,” he told Skai radio. “We have open channels of communication but the armed forces are ready to do what is necessary in coordination with the Foreign Ministry,” he added.

His statements came as Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos denied media reports quoting him as disputing claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Greece and Turkey had come to an agreement not to “move” on the Imia islets that brought the two countries close to war in 1996.

Earlier reports alleged Panagiotopoulos had rejected claims by Erdogan that he sent a message to Greece through Defense Minister Hulusi Akar not to make any “move” over Imia.

The Greek Defense Ministry said Panagiotopoulos “never made such a statement” and the claims were “the interpretations and assessments of those who express them.” 

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