German Scholz urges Turkey to respect Greek ‘sovereignty’ – POLITICO

ATHENS — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged Turkey to end threats against Greece in a dispute over the eastern Mediterranean islands, calling on the two sides to resolve their differences through international law.

« It shouldn’t be true that NATO partners question each other’s sovereignty, » Scholz said during a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the Greek capital, referring to the fact that Greece and its eastern neighbor Turkey are members of the military. Alliance.

« All issues should be resolved on the basis of international law, » the Chancellor said, adding with a wink to Mitsotakis that « we are in complete agreement on that. »

Turkey questioned Greece’s sovereignty over many inhabited and uninhabited Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean after Athens stationed troops on the islands. Greece justified the move by citing Turkey’s increased military presence along Turkey’s western coast.

In recent weeks, tensions between Athens and Ankara reached a critical level when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued direct threats against Greek troops on these islands, saying: “We could suddenly come one night.

Scholz’s rebuke of Turkey, however, was less explicit than that which his foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, addressed to Turkey during a regional visit in July – drawing the ire of Ankara.

Scholz suggested that Germany could serve as a « useful » mediator in the impasse. And its repeated insistence on upholding international law could be interpreted as a request for Athens to withdraw Greek troops from the islands, which, according to previous agreements, were to remain demilitarized.

“The Mediterranean is an area full of potential, especially economic, and it should be in the interest of all neighbors to take full advantage of this opportunity for the benefit of their respective populations,” Scholz said. « In my conversation [with Mitsotakis]I had the impression that Greece is very willing to do this, and we can and should have confidence in that.

Mitsotakis said at the press conference that Greek troops on the islands were « no threat » to Turkey, and added: « It is a pity that Erdogan does not see and understand that he is pursuing a futile path as he constantly spouts lies about Greece.”

“History cannot be changed with imperial illusions or geography with falsified maps,” the Greek leader continued, saying he had received “very clear” support from Scholz that an ally of NATO cannot question the borders of others.

Mitsotakis also said that 40 German « Marder » infantry fighting vehicles – which Athens receives from Berlin in exchange for Soviet-era tanks sent to Ukraine – will be stationed in northern Greece, next to the border. Turkish. Departing tanks will be removed from the Aegean islands.

Mitsotakis said the placement will better protect the country. Scholz declined to comment on the change in posture.

« Greece is a very reliable partner », so it would be « strange » for him to comment on where the tanks should be stationed, he said.

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