The “Philia (Friendship) Forum” that brought together in Athens four Mediterranean states (Cyprus, Egypt, France and Greece) and three Gulf states (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) on Thursday apparently touched a raw nerve in Turkey, which reacted with a strongly worded statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy.
Despite that, the Greek government appears satisfied, both with the forum’s results, as expressed in the participants’ joint statement, and other diplomatic moves, such as the increasingly closer relations with Israel and diplomatic contacts with other countries in the region, such as Iraq, whose Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, as well as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
“It is not possible for any forum not including Turkey, the key country in its region, and Turkish Cypriots, to constitute an effective and successful mechanism of cooperation and friendship with regard to the challenges in the region,” Aksoy’s statement Thursday begins.
But what really ticked off the Turkish Foreign Ministry was the remarks made by Dendias during a press conference, in which he accused Turkey, without naming it, of threatening and using violence, invading other countries and supporting extreme ideologies and terrorism.
“The baseless accusations and slander against Turkey voiced by the foreign minister of Greece during the press conference held at the conclusion of this forum, which is allegedly ‘not pitted against anyone,’ demonstrates that this initiative is in fact an attempt to form an alliance built upon hostility toward Turkey, rather than ‘friendship’ as stated,” the Turkish statement says, further accusing Greece of causing destabilization in Libya, “trying to create a terror corridor that can potentially divide Syria and Iraq,” and remaining “silent for years regarding the occupation of Azerbaijani territories,” and saying it “should not exceed [its] limits and criticize Turkey’s humanitarian and fair policies in the region.”
Dendias, in turn, accused Turkey of “casting accusations and insults against us,” instead of “responding to the effort [made by the forum].”
“Our aim is de-escalation and, when conditions permit, creating a climate of cooperation with everybody,” he added.