German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday rejected Turkish claims on the sovereignty of Greek islands, saying a NATO partner “should not” question the sovereignty of another member, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.
“All such issues should be resolved on the basis of international law,” the German leader, on his first visit to Greece as chancellor, said in in joint comments with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The remarks arrive amid heightened tensions between Ankara and Athens, which have been at odds for decades over a string of issues, including, maritime borders and energy exploration rights in the Aegean and east Mediterranean seas.
Ankara has condemned Greece’s militarization of some of its islands close to Turkish shores, which Turkey claims violate an international agreement. Athens maintains it’s only protecting its territory from Turkish threats.
“It is truly a shame that (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan cannot see he is heading towards an impasse, when he poisons his people with lies against Greece,” DW Turkish cited Mitsotakis as saying.
The Greek prime minister in an interview with French weekly Le Point published on Thursday said the language used in “undeniably escalating rhetoric” by Erdoğan and his senior officials in recent months was “unprecedented,’’ Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Athens “cannot ignore that these statements confirm an aggressive and expansionist stance towards Greece,” he said. “President Erdogan… now says he could invade my country during the night.”
The Turkish president in September called on Greece to stop “militarising” Greek islands neighbouring Turkey and warned that Turkish military forces could come “at night,” a threat that he has repeated since.
“Our neighbours and all our partners know that the Greek islands threaten no-one,” Mitsotakis said on Thursday. “Everyone knows that international agreements do not change through arbitrary interpretations. Nor does history change through delusions, or geography through forged maps.”
The United States last month said that Greek sovereignty over two islands was not in doubt after Ankara lodged a protest over the deployment there of U.S. armoured vehicles, AFP reported.