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Mar 20 2019

Greece looking to defuse tension in face of Ankara's provocative rhetoric - Kathimerini

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos and Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis on Tuesday stated their determination to de-escalate tensions and pursue good relations with Turkey, despite incendiary rhetoric from Ankara, in particular from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.

“Our aim is not to escalate tension but to de-escalate it,” Katrougalos said on Tuesday, while Apostolakis noted that if the statements that are made daily by Ankara were taken stock of, nothing would be achieved.

“We are determined to reduce tensions,” Apostolakis said.

The Greek ministers’ comments arrive after the Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced a Greek Foreign Ministry statement on Monday, which berated provocative comments by President Erdoğan during a rally in the western province of İzmir over the weekend, as being “incompatible with good-neighborly relations.”

The Turkish president referred to the Greek-Turkish war in Asia Minor in 1922 and hailed Izmir for “throwing the infidels into the sea,” during a campaign rally for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of the March 31 local elections.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said Erdoğan’s comments undermined the trust Athens hoped to build with Ankara and said they are not in line with the European perspective that the Turkish leadership claims to support.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, for its part,  said on Tuesday that Greece’s reaction to the Turkish president’s comments “disregards the historical facts such as Greece’s past attempt to occupy Anatolia and the compensation it paid to Turkey due to the destruction and damage inflicted on Anatolia by its army.”

Tensions have been soaring between Greece and Turkey over the past few years over an array of issues, including ownership of disputed islets and standoffs between opposing fighter jets in the Aegean Sea and gas explorations offshore Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.