Turkey's Erdogan cuts talks with Greece in ongoing spat

Turkey's Erdogan cuts talks with Greece in ongoing spat
Talks between Turkey's President Recept Tayyip Erdogan and leaders from Greece will no longer be going ahead, the Turkish leader said.
2 min read
01 June, 2022
Erdogan said he would no longer meet with Greek leaders [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said he would no longer meet with Greek leaders in an ongoing spat over islands and airspace in the Aegean Sea.

"We will no longer have bilateral meetings with them," the Turkish head of state said in a speech to his parliamentary group in Ankara.

"You know that we had a high strategic council agreement with Greece. I notified our foreign minister yesterday, we have broken this agreement," he said.

Sealed in 2010, the agreement between Turkey and Greece provided for regular high-level meetings to develop cooperation between the two countries.

Referring to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Erdogan said, without naming him: "He goes to the United States, he makes remarks against us in front of Congress. We are fed up now."

Turkey has intensified its criticism of Greece since Mitsotakis told the US Congress during a visit to Washington last month that overflights over Greek islands were "open acts of aggression that violate our sovereignty and our territorial rights."

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Overflights by Turkish fighter aircraft in airspace claimed by Greece is a habitual source of tension between the historic rivals and terse NATO allies.

Turkish pro-government media interpreted this speech as a call to Washington not to provide F-16 fighter planes long requested by Turkey.

Mitsotakis earlier this week said he would not engage in a "ping-pong" of personal insults with Erdogan.

"Turkey is the one threatening us," he told reporters in Brussels, adding that Ankara was "wasting an opportunity" to improve relations.

Turkish authorities also say the Greeks have stationed troops on Aegean islands in violation of the peace treaties that followed World War I and World War II.

Athens counters that the troops are stationed in response to the presence of Turkish military units, aircraft and landing craft on the opposite coast.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu repeated on Tuesday that Ankara would challenge Greece's sovereignty over the islands if it continued to send troops there.

"Greece has violated the status of these islands and must disarm them. Otherwise, a debate on their sovereignty will start," he told the official Anadolu agency.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds the EU presidency until July, on Tuesday backed Athens by condemning any questioning of Greece's sovereignty.

The German government also said that questions on the sovereignty of EU states was "not acceptable" and urged both states to keep talks open.