Greek PM expresses concern over West’s stance toward Turkey

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister said Friday he is concerned that the West’s calm response toward Turkish actions is encouraging it to behave in an unacceptable manner.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the statements after a meeting with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in Athens on a final official visit.

“I fear that Western composure encourages Turkish arbitrary actions, and it is time for European principles to be turned into European policy and mainly into European practices against those who offend it,” he said.

Neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey are at odds over a series of issues, including territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea that divides them, and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tension increased significantly in 2020 over energy exploration rights which led to warships from the two countries shadowing each other. Athens also denounced Turkey in March last year when it announced its borders to Europe were open and encouraged migrants to head to European Union-member Greece.

“No one is seeking a definitive rupture in relations between the European Union and Turkey. It would not be something that would be beneficial to Europe or to Greece or, ultimately, to Turkey,” Mitsotakis said.

Turkey has been an official candidate to join the bloc for more than two decades, but relations there have also occasionally been strained.

“I believe that Turkey as a NATO member and Turkey as our neighbor should be treated in such a way that we make it clear that it is in our interest to have reasonable relations with Turkey,” Merkel said. “Even with disagreements that we have, for example, even on human rights issues.”

Germany has stressed in the past that dialogue is key in improving relations with Turkey. Greece insists it is open to dialogue with its neighbor, but that a similar will must exist on both sides. Turkey has also said it is willing to talk, and the two are engaged in a series of low-level confidence-building discussions.

“On the one hand, Greece extends a hand of friendship; on the other, Greece will be the first to defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights if that feels that they are being violated in any way,” Mitsotakis said.

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