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Greece, Cyprus won’t follow Turkey in tension-escalating talks




NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) Greek and Cypriot leaders on Friday sought to ease tensions with neighboring Turkey amid increasingly belligerent rhetoric from the Turkish president, insisting that the best way to counter such talk is to show calm and determination.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the approach the most appropriate to defuse tensions while keeping communication channels with Turkey open.

The defense of Greece and Cyprus against all revisionist tendencies is international law, our strong alliances and our membership in the European family, and with calm determination and composure we will always counter any rhetoric that goes beyond the appropriate diplomatic limits. , said Mitsotakis during a meeting with the Cypriot president. Nicos Anastasiade.

I suspect that this approach is ultimately the right one and that we will soon be back on calmer waters, always keeping open channels of communication that I believe should never close, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Turkey and Greece have a long history of disputes over a range of issues, including mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and rival claims in the Aegean Sea.

The two countries have also been at odds over ethnically divided Cyprus which Turkey does not recognize as a state. It lays claim to much of the island nations offshore economic zone where natural gas deposits have been discovered.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 during the Turkish invasion following a coup aimed at union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the northern third of the islands.

Greek-Turkish tensions rose last week when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece to demilitarize its Aegean islands, saying he was not kidding. He spoke during Turkish military exercises near the islands, including an amphibious landing scenario.

The Ankara government claims that Athens has built a military presence on the Aegean islands in violation of 20th century treaties that ceded the islands to Greece after a long period of occupation by the Turks or, in the case of Rhodes and Kos, by Italy.

Greece counters that the islands need defenses given war threats from Turkey, which has NATO’s second-largest army and maintains a large landing fleet on its Aegean coast.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price urged NATO allies to resolve their differences diplomatically and avoid rhetoric that could further escalate tensions.

Greek and Turkish defense ministers met on the sidelines of a NATO meeting on Thursday to discuss.




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