Turkey, exploration activities in Eastern Mediterranean

Greece rejects dialogue with Turkey with NATO mediation

Turkey accuses Greece of lying and rejecting dialogue, after Athens has denied that it accepted a NATO mediation to start negotiations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday harshly criticised Greece‘s decision to reject unconditional dialogue to curb tensions in Eastern Mediterranean, accusing Athens of lying and dishonesty, and of showing once again that it is not interested in resolving the conflict over resources in the region, not even with NATO mediation.

“Greece’s denial of the NATO general secretary is worthy of attention. First it agreed with the talks with Turkey, and then it backed down. It was Greece who lied,” Çavuşoğlu said during a media appearance on Friday. “It has been the Greek side that has refused to start negotiations without prior conditions,” he insisted.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg publicly announced that both Turkey and Greece had agreed to initiate talks to establish “conflict de-escalation mechanisms” in East Mediterranean; in a message on Twitter, Stoltenberg said that he had held talks with the leaders of both countries and that they had both agreed to start technical talks under NATO mediation to reduce tension in the area.

As Çavuşoğlu explained this Friday, the proposal made by the NATO General Secretariat consisted of holding a meeting of Turkish and Greek ministers under the mediation of the Atlantic Alliance; however – added the minister – the Greek government initially accepted the idea and then rejected it hours later, denying that it had accepted negotiations under NATO mediation.

“Greece is lying. Greece has shown that it does not want dialogue”

“The information published stating that Greece and Turkey had agreed to hold so-called ‘technical talks’ on the de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean does not correspond to reality,” the Greek foreign ministry declared in a statement.

However, the version given by the Turkish foreign minister about what happened is very different: “The NATO general secretary asked Greece for its opinion (on the negotiations). Greece said ‘OK’. After (Greece) said OK, NATO made the statement,” said Çavuşoğlu referring to the announcement made Thursday by Stoltenberg on an agreement between Ankara and Athens to start a dialogue.

Regarding the reaction of the Greek government, the foreign minister stressed that “its denial of NATO is certainly clarifying” and shows that Greece is not in favor of dialogue with Turkey, even if to get this it needs to lie and deny NATO itself. “Greece denied NATO General Secretary Stoltenberg. Greece is lying. Greece has shown that it is not in favor of dialogue,” he insisted.

“The countries of the European Union also know that Greece is not acting well; France is inciting Greece. Macron was confused about what to do… Who is inciting Greece more? France. France also has another problem. If not, what business does it have in the Eastern Mediterranean?” said Çavuşoğlu,referring to France government’s military assistance agreement for the Greek Cypriots.

Turkey’s warnings to France

Çavuşoğlu insisted that Greece will be disappointed if it expects Turkey to renounce its legitimate rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and accept the demands of Athens. “We are going to protect our rights and those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus: this is our goal. We are open to cooperation with all countries in the Mediterranean,” said the minister, who also had words of warning for France.

“France should have been looking for ways to cooperate with Turkey (instead of supporting Greece’s claims). Clearly (France) needs to apologize to Turkey,” underlined Çavuşoğlu criticizing France’s continued “provocations” to Cyprus to stoke tensions in the region. France rivals Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean also in Libya, where it supports the rebel General Haftar together with Egypt and the UAE, while Ankara supports the legitimate government of Tripoli.