Erdogan of Turkey says he will no longer speak to the Greek Prime Minister | News

The Turkish leader accuses Kyriakos Mitsotakis of having recommended to American officials that Washington not sell F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will stop talking to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and cancel a key meeting between their two governments, accusing the Greek leader of opposing Turkey.

In a televised address following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Erdogan accused Mitsotakis of recommending to US officials that Washington not sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a recent visit to the states. -United.

Erdogan then accused Greece of harboring supporters of US religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey says was behind a failed coup attempt in 2016, and of establishing military bases against Turkey. Gulen has long denied the Turkish allegation.

“We had agreed not to include third countries in our dispute with him. Despite this, last week he traveled to the United States and spoke to Congress and warned them not to give us F-16s,” Erdogan said.

“It no longer exists for me. I will never agree to meet him. We will continue our way with honorable politicians.

Erdogan was apparently referring to a speech Mitsotakis gave in Washington on May 17, when he told Congress that the United States should avoid creating another source of instability on NATO’s southeastern flank.

“The last thing NATO needs at a time when our goal is to help Ukraine defeat Russian aggression is another source of instability on NATO’s southeastern flank,” he said. the Greek leader. “And I ask you to take this into account when making defense procurement decisions regarding the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Greece “will not enter the confrontation”

Responding to Erdogan’s comments, Greek government spokesman Yiannis Economou said Athens “will not engage in a statement showdown with the Turkish leadership.”

“Greek foreign policy is strongly based on history, international law and our alliances, although that may annoy some,” he said.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias defended Mitsotakis’ speech, saying “nothing was said that goes beyond the bounds of standard Greek positions.”

“We have always referred to all leaders of countries, and to President Erdogan, with the respect due to the leader of a foreign country,” Dendias told Skai Radio.

Greece and Turkey are NATO allies but have strained relations over a host of issues, including competing maritime boundary claims that affect energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions erupted in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea where Greece and Cyprus claim their own exclusive economic zone, leading to a naval standoff.

Turkey also claims that Greece is violating international agreements by militarizing the Aegean islands. Athens says it must defend the islands – many of which lie close to Turkey’s shores – against a potential attack using Turkey’s large fleet of military landing craft.

Officials from the two countries resumed exploratory talks in 2021 after a five-year hiatus to lay the groundwork for launching formal negotiations, but have not made much progress.

Greece this month officially extended its bilateral military agreement with the United States for five years, replacing an annual review of the agreement that grants the United States military access to three bases in mainland Greece as well as to the US naval presence on the island of Crete.

“Who is Greece threatening with these bases? Why is Greece establishing these bases? asked Erdogan.

Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey made a mistake by re-accepting Greece into NATO’s military wing in 1980.

The Turkish leader also recently criticized Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO, saying Turkey would not support their bids.

Sharon P. Juarez