Greece says Turkey’s position on Aegean islands is absurd

Turkey has adopted an “absurd” position regarding Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.

The stance of the Turkish government makes talks between the two countries to resolve their differences difficult, Mitsotakis said in an interview with state-run television channel ERT, Reuters reported.

"Turkey's objections, as they were phrased in the latest letters to the United Nations, are absolutely absurd as they raise questions about Greece's sovereignty over its islands," he said. "We cannot have any discussion over the absurd."

Fellow NATO members Greece and Turkey are embroiled in spats over territory, airspace and mineral exploration rights in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. They are also at odds over migrants and the ethnically divided island of Cyprus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on Greece to stop arming its Aegean islands, saying they must have a demilitarised status, and to stick to international agreements made early last century. Greece says that Turkey's objections are unfounded. The two governments have sent letters to the United Nations outlining their conflicting positions.

Erdoğan said last month that Mitsotakis "no longer exists" for him after the Greek leader called on U.S. politicians during a visit to Washington D.C. to think carefully about awarding arms contracts to Turkey, saying that could destabilise the region.

Mitsotakis said he and Erdoğan would inevitably meet and should talk to each other.

"We need to meet each other and we need to discuss ... we need to be able to agree that we disagree but we need to agree on the framework for solving our differences," he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Turkey and Greece should refrain from escalating tensions.

"At a time when (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, it is even more important for allies to stand together," he said in an interview with the Athens News Agency, according to Reuters.

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