Greece wants to keep the channel open to Turkey -PM

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives for a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

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NICOSIA, June 17 (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday it was important to keep communication channels open with Turkey, despite harsh rhetoric that has heightened tensions between the two neighbours.

The two countries, which are NATO partners, disagree on a number of issues ranging from maritime and air borders to potential energy sources in the Mediterranean and ethnically divided Cyprus.

Tensions have recently resurfaced, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan saying Greece should stop arming Aegean islands which should have demilitarized status under international treaties. Greece rejects Turkey’s claims as unfounded.

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Mitsotakis, speaking in Cyprus, said international law was on Greece’s side.

“We will set aside any rhetoric that deviates from the rules of good diplomatic practice,” he said during a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia.

“I believe this approach is the right one and that we will quickly return to calmer waters, always keeping the channels of communication open. It is my opinion and have always been that even in the most difficult times, they should never close.” said Mitsotakis.

Turkish and Greek defense ministers met on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday and discussed maintaining dialogue to ease recently heightened tensions, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. Read more

Mitsotakis was in Cyprus for a conference of the island’s Democratic Rally party.

Cyprus was divided during the 1974 invasion triggered by a brief coup staged by the military then in power in Greece. It has since remained divided, with a Greek Cypriot government nominally representing the whole island in the EU and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in its north.

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Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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Sharon P. Juarez