Greek PM Mitsotakis says Turkey’s stance on Greek island sovereignty is ‘absurd’ | world news

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday that Turkey’s position questioning Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands is “absurd”, making any discussion between the two countries difficult.

“Turkey’s objections, as formulated in the latest letters to the United Nations, are absolutely absurd as they raise questions about Greece’s sovereignty over its islands,” Mitsotakis said in a preview of a interview to be broadcast by state television ERT later on Tuesday. . “We can’t have a discussion about the absurd.”

NATO allies Greece and Turkey have long been at odds over issues ranging from maritime borders and claims to their continental shelves in the Mediterranean, to airspace, migrants and Cyprus’ ethnic divide. .

Tensions flared again recently, with Erdogan saying Greece should stop arming Aegean islands that have demilitarized status and respect international agreements. Ankara claims the Aegean islands were given to Greece under the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Treaties of Paris on condition that it not arm them.

Athens said Turkey’s remarks about arming the islands were unfounded. Both countries have sent letters to the United Nations outlining their rival positions on airspace and the islands.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said last month that Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, accusing the Greek leader of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to Turkey. United States.

Mitsotakis said the two leaders will inevitably meet at some point and shouldn’t stop talking to each other.

“We have to meet and we have to talk…we have to be able to agree that we don’t agree, but we have to agree on the framework to resolve our differences,” Mitsotakis said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday urged Greece and Turkey to refrain from any action or rhetoric that could escalate the situation.

“At a time when (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, it is even more important that the allies stick together,” he said in an interview with the agency. of Athens’ Greek semi-state press.

In 2021, Greece and Turkey resumed bilateral talks on improving relations after a five-year hiatus, but made little progress. Last week, Erdogan announced that Turkey was ending all bilateral negotiations.

(Reporting by Angeliki Kotantou; Editing by Mark Porter)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

Sharon P. Juarez