Some politicians in Greece are trying to escalate tensions between Ankara and Athens, the Turkish national defense minister said on Friday.
“Unfortunately, some politicians, especially in Greece, are escalating the tension with their aggressive actions and rhetoric to disrupt bilateral relations instead of finding rational and logical solutions to the problems,” said Hulusi Akar during a ceremony to mark the start of the 2021-2022 academic year at Istanbul-based National Defense University.
“Statements made by senior politicians in Greece are irrational and illogical,” Akar said, adding that those remarks do not comply with “international law and good neighborly relations.”
“They (some Greek politicians) should know that these are futile efforts and that they cannot defeat Turkey with such actions and discourses,” he added.
Akar's remarks came after Greek lawmakers on Thursday ratified a defense pact between Greece and France. The deal, signed last month, states that Greece will purchase three French frigates which will be delivered in 2025 and 2026.
It also includes security cooperation between the two countries, a move hailed by both Greece and France as a step toward European strategic autonomy.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis highlighted an article in the agreement which spells out a commitment to mutual defense assistance in the event of an attack on either county by a third one.
Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean
About tensions in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Akar said: “We want the problems with Greece to be resolved within the framework of international law, by finding political solutions through dialogue as part of good neighborly relations, and for the peoples of the two sides to live in safety and prosperity by benefiting from the riches in an environment of peace and tranquility.”
Referring to a recent incident in which the Greek research vessel Nautical Geo was intercepted while trying to violate the Turkish continental shelf, Akar said that Greece was trying to conduct research in violation of Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction. “We said we would never allow this,” he said.
Turkish Navy did “what was necessary and did not let that ship enter in the area,” he explained.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region – including maritime disputes – through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.