The Greek foreign minister used his inaugural address to fabricate long-standing allegations about Turkey.
After their first meeting in more than a year, the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey exchanged views on a range of issues at a roaring press conference.
The meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlুটt Cavusoglu and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias was probably designed to try to bridge their differences after a year-long feud between two two-year-old neighbors.
The two countries were on the brink of an all-out war when their gunboats overshadowed each other as they pushed the Turks into the disputed East Mediterranean waters last August.
The press conference began with a statement of condolence from Cavusoglu, where he praised the “extremely positive conversation” that had just taken place in the Turkish capital.
Cavusoglu said he believed that disputes with Greece could be resolved through constructive dialogue and that in the case of relations between the two countries, this fault should be met and provocative speeches should be avoided.
“It is in our interest that the minorities of both countries live in peace, which will have a positive impact on our relations.”
Dendias, however, used his opening remarks to make long-standing allegations about Turkey – ranging from the search for natural gas in competitive waters to its treatment of Greek Orthodox minorities and the party’s ongoing dispute over immigrants.
“Greece’s position is clear and this is not the first time you’ve heard of it,” Dendias told Cavusoglu at a particularly heated moment at the 35-minute press conference.
Cavusoglu replied, “If you heavily accuse my country and people in the face of pressure, I must be in a position to respond.”
“If you want to continue our excitement, we can.”
Dendias also expressed support for Turkey’s accession to the European Union, but said any violation of Greece’s sovereignty would be allowed.
His comments provoked an angry reaction from Cavusoglu, who described them as “unacceptable” and told Dendias that he was surprised Cavogoglu expected him to behave as if nothing had happened in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Tensions between neighbors
Dendias’ visit to Ankara is the first by a Greek minister in more than two years
The continued threat of an armed conflict between the two NATO alliances has alarmed the European Union.
Tensions erupted last year over Turkish research ships exploring oil and gas reserves in the waters at the behest of Greece and its closest ally Cyprus.
Other issues include self-contained continental shelf, maritime rights, aircraft space in the Mediterranean, energy, the Cyprus issue, and competitive claims over the location of several islands in the Aegean Sea.
Turkey has also accused the Greek Coast Guard of imposing sanctions Life at risk Trying to force migrants to return to Turkish waters on Greek islands, Greece, meanwhile, has claimed that Turkey is facilitating such crossings in violation of the 2011 refugee agreement between Ankara and the EU.