Turkey, Greece send letters to NATO, EU after bilateral dispute enflamed

Turkey sent a letter of complaint outlining the alleged provocative actions and rhetoric of Greece to NATO, the EU and the United Nations after Athens reportedly set about doing the same.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday that letters were sent last week to 25 EU capitals, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and the head of NATO, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

The news followed reports in the Greek media that Athens sent correspondence to the same institutions and made similar accusations against Turkey.

The two NATO members and neighbours are suffering the worst bout of diplomatic and military tensions since 1996, when they almost went to war over a disputed islet in the Aegean. Just like three decades ago, the dispute is centred around territorial claims, but arguments over exploration rights for oil and natural gas have now been added to the mix.

The letter highlighted Turkey’s position and views on the solution to problems in the Aegean, as well as the unlawful actions and maximalist demands of Greece. Turkey accuses Greece of illegally militarising islands close to its shores citing international agreements, a charge Athens denies. Ankara also accuses the West, and the European Union in particular, of unfairly siding with Greece in the matter.

At the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that Turkey “may come at night” to resolve a dispute over the islands if Greece continued to pursue its current course of actions.

“Your occupying the islands does not bind us. When the time, the hour, comes, we will do what is necessary,” Erdoğan said.

This week, he said Greece was inferior to Turkey politically, militarily and economically and that “if these illegitimate threats continue there’s an end to one’s patience.”

The two countries also accuse each other of frequent infringements of air space and their air forces sometimes conduct mock dogfights.

Greece will immediately send out letters citing recent threats towards Greece by top Turkish officials, Greek media including the Athens-based Kathimerini newspaper reported on Monday citing unidentified sources. The statements were “so outrageous” that no further comment was needed, the sources said.

The latest bout of tensions between Greece and Turkey come as Erdoğan prepares to fight presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June next year. He and his ruling party have suffered a decline in public support due to economic instability, which has included an acceleration in annual inflation to more than 80 percent.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday that it was unacceptable to be subject to threats by a fellow NATO country. Greece's unwavering position is based on “dialogue, international maritime law and good neighbourly relations,” the National Herald cited Mitsotakis as saying.


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