Greece “wants significant phasing out” if Ankara stops the provocations

While rival military maneuvers took place in the eastern Mediterranean on Wednesday, amid growing tensions between Ankara and Athens, the Greek prime minister spoke by telephone with the US president. He said his country was ready for a “significant phase-out”, “provided that Turkey immediately stops its provocative measures.”

“Greece is ready for a significant step down, but on the condition that Turkey immediately halt its provocative measures,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (August 26).

In a telephone interview with the latter, Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke of “Turkey’s destabilizing measures that threaten peace and stability throughout the region and jeopardize NATO’s cohesion,” according to the official. the press to the Greek Prime Minister.

The statements come when rival military maneuvers took place in the eastern Mediterranean on Wednesday, amid growing tensions between Turkey and Greece, both members of NATO, fighting over maritime areas rich in hydrocarbons.

On the one hand, Turkish warships conducted exercises with an American destroyer, according to the Turkish Ministry of Defense. On the other hand, “Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have agreed to distribute a joint presence in the Eastern Mediterranean under the Quadripartite Cooperation Initiative (QUAD)”, the ministry announced. Greek defense. The European exercise began on Wednesday and is expected to last until Friday in southern and southwestern Cyprus, according to a military source.

Germany advocates stripping

These maneuvers “do not help” the stripping down that Germany advocates, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, after a ministerial meeting of the European Union’s defense in Berlin.

They aim to “confirm both international law and freedom of navigation”, said the French Ministry of Defense, according to which this deployment, “planned for some time”, is not an escalation.

Since August 10, the Turkish seismic building Oruç Reis together with a naval escort has been in this area, provoking Athens ire who responded by sending buildings on site.

France has warned Ankara that the eastern Mediterranean could not be a “playground” for national “ambitions”. “Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception,” French Military Minister Floris Parly said in a tweet.

Erdogan’s warning

Despite calls for austerity from Europe, the United States and NATO, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey would make “no concessions” to defend its gas interests in the eastern Mediterranean. He urged his “speakers” to “watch out for something wrong” that would lead to their “destruction”, in a reference to Greece which he does not name.

Military exercise in the Mediterranean: Turkey will take “what is fair its own”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “concerned about the situation in the eastern Mediterranean” and also called for “downsizing” and “dialogue”. “We must find a way to resolve this situation (…) on the basis of the spirit of solidarity between allies and international law,” he said.

The small Greek island of Kastellorizo, located two kilometers from the Turkish coast, crystallizes Ankara’s anger. According to Athens, the surrounding waters are under Greek sovereignty, which would deprive Ankara of tens of thousands of km2 of gas-rich sea areas.

The Greco-Turkish dispute will be on the agenda of a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Thursday and Friday in Berlin.

With AFP