Expert: Turkey will eventually lift NATO 'blockade'

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The General called on Turkey and Greece to refrain from using inflammatory language and rhetoric aimed at escalating tensions in the region. He said: “We urge Greece and Turkey to solve their differences in the Aegean in a spirit of trust and Allied solidarity.

“That means restraint and moderation and refraining from any actions or rhetoric that could escalate the situation.

“At a time when Putin’s war on Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, it is even more important for Allies to stand together.

“In the past, there have been accidents involving Greek and Turkish forces, and we must do everything we can to help reduce the risk of such accidents in the future.”

But the comments infuriated Nikos Androulakis, leader of Greek socialist Pasok party, who accused Mr Stoltenberg of acting as an “ambassador” for Turkish President Erdogan.

He blasted: “The challenges in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, the threat of war against Greece, the questioning of our national sovereignty in the islands of the Eastern Aegean and the revising doctrine of the Turkish leadership are not just disagreements or accidents, as Stoltenberg note.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Mr Stoltenberg has chosen to justify the authoritarian Erdogan regime and even Turkey’s extortionate attitude towards Sweden and Finland.

“He cannot function as both Erdogan’s Ambassador and NATO Secretary-General.”

The spat comes after President Erdogan last month said that Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, accusing the Greek leader of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.

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“We had agreed to not include third countries in our dispute with him. Despite this, last week, he had a visit to the US and talked at the Congress and warned them not to give F-16s to us,” the Turkish leader said at a news conference following the weekly cabinet meeting.

“He no longer exists for me. I will never agree to meet with him.

“We will continue our way with honourable politicians.”

Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have been at odds over a host of issues such as maritime boundaries, the extent of their continental shelves, airspace, and ethnically split Cyprus.

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During his visit to the United States where he met US President Joe Biden and senior US officials last week, Mr Mitsotakis said Greece will start procedures for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the United States by 2030.

Following President Erdogan’s remarks, Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou responded that Mr Mitsotakis defends Greece’s rights and international law and that Greece’s foreign policy is also based on its alliances.

He said in a statement: “We won’t get into a counterargument with Turkey’s leadership.

“Our policy is a policy of principles.”

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