Greece’s prime minister said on Tuesday that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “turning point” in the course of Europe, stressing that any outcome that could encourage aggression by other nations on the continent must be avoided.
Greece, which has long-standing disputes with much larger neighbor Turkey that brought them to the brink of war three times in the past half century, has expressed strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian occupation.
“The battle of Ukraine is not just another event on the international stage. It is a turning point in the course of Europe,” said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“We owe it to Ukraine today to avoid any kind of fait accompli that could be imitated tomorrow by new potential troublemakers,” he said.
Mitsotakis noted that he was referring to Turkey’s “continued aggressive behavior,” with which relations have shown increasing strain over the past two years. Although both members of NATO, the two countries have decades-long disputes over a range of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Recent spats have focused on Greek islands off Turkey’s coast, with Ankara accusing Athens of maintaining a military presence there in violation of treaties. Greece disputes that it is acting according to international law and is defending its islands in the face of Turkish hostility.
“One thing is certain, we do not need new revisionism and revival of imperial fantasies,” Mitsotakis said. And one more thing is also certain, Greece will not tolerate any doubt of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Greek prime minister said his country was “keeping our doors closed to threats, keeping our windows open for peaceful contacts. Disputes between nations are resolved based on international law, not through bullying.”
Last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of violating its airspace – something Greece often accuses Turkey of doing with its airspace and denies violating its airspace.
“We don’t have an issue like ‘let’s go to war with Greece, let’s have a war’. But Greece does not live up to their promises,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers, accusing Greece of violating Turkish airspace 147 times.
“Of course, if you’re going to violate our airspace like this, then what do we get? Our air force will provide you with the necessary visuals. This is what our air force is doing,” Erdogan said, adding that “our armed forces are doing their duty and if these airspace violations continue after this, we will continue to do our duty in the same way”.
The Turkish president said that the leaders of many NATO countries had tried to reconcile him. Erdogan said that “we are not thinking about this now”, but we will see what happens in the future and evaluate it afterwards.
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