Ankara slams anti-Turkey alliance meeting in Athens

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by Daily Sabah with AP

From left, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani, Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry listen to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ (R) speech during a meeting in Athens, Greece, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo)

Turkey on Thursday condemned a forum held in Athens with the participation of Greece, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and the Greek Cypriot administration as an alliance against the country.

In a written statement, the foreign ministry said that “the Greek foreign minister’s accusatory and slanderous remarks at the meeting in Athens indicate this enterprise is not about friendship.”

Turkey also said the forum’s attitude is “hostile” while Ankara is calling for genuine cooperation through an international conference on East Mediterranean.

“Greece and Greek Cyprus’s behavior to stain positive agenda between Turkey and EU is threatening peace and stability,” it added.

Foreign ministers and senior officials from several Persian Gulf countries met in Athens on Thursday, as Greece seeks to expand alliances to counter tension with regional rival and NATO ally Turkey.

Turkey and EU member Greece have been at odds on several issues. Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims made by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations. Instead of opting to solve problems with Ankara through dialogue, Athens has, on several occasions, refused to sit at the negotiation table and opted to rally Brussels to take a tougher stance against Turkey.

The visiting officials from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE met in Athens with the foreign ministers of Greece, the Greek Cyprus and Egypt, who already hold regular contacts, and they were joined by video link by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The participating countries have broadly sided with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean dispute.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the seven participating countries were planning to have regular contacts and meetings.

“It is natural for Greece to seek out this type of cooperation … multidimensional challenges in our wider neighborhood make it necessary,” he said at the start of the meetings.

Athens and Ankara recently restarted long-stalled talks aimed at resolving their maritime disputes but Greece has continued plans to modernize its military and in recent months has stepped up armed forces cooperations with France, Egypt, Israel and others.

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