Terse re­tort from Athens as Ankara ups rhetoric

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A fur­ther es­ca­la­tion in provoca­tive rhetoric by Ankara this week prompted a terse re­sponse from Athens yes­ter­day.

“Know­ing in­ter­na­tional law means, above all, re­spect­ing it and not vi­o­lat­ing it,” the Greek For­eign Min­istry said in an un­usu­ally brief writ­ten state­ment. It was is­sued in re­sponse to a state­ment by its Turk­ish coun­ter­part the day be­fore crit­i­ciz­ing re­marks by Greek Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los ear­lier in the week.

The Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry ac­cused Pavlopou­los of “a lack of knowl­edge on the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of in­ter­na­tional law.” The Turk­ish min­istry also claimed that Greece “at­tempts to hide be­hind an imag­i­nary Turk­ish threat which has no re­la­tion­ship to re­al­ity what­so­ever and in­ter­prets UN Char­ter ar­bi­trar­ily.” Ankara also re­buffed Greek ac­cu­sa­tions of es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions in the Aegean, in­stead point­ing to “provoca­tive ac­tions and rhetoric” by De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos, though with­out nam­ing him.

Ankara’s lengthy state­ment fol­lowed com­ments by Pavlopou­los ear­lier this week re­ject­ing Turk­ish ref­er­ences to “gray zones” in the Aegean Sea and declar­ing that such claims pose a threat not just to Greek sovereignty but also to that of the Euro­pean Union.

The war of words comes amid a spike in Turk­ish vi­o­la­tions of Greek air space and ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters that au­thor­i­ties fear will es­ca­late fur­ther ahead of a con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­en­dum in Turkey in April.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said that for stalled Cyprus peace talks to come un­stuck, Greek Cypri­ots would have to fix their “mis­take” of leg­is­lat­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tion of a 1950 ref­er­en­dum that called for Cypriot union with Greece. Yildirim said Greek Cypri­ots be­lieve they are “the sole own­ers” of the is­land but should ac­cept Turk­ish Cypri­ots as equals in a fed­er­a­tion. “This at­ti­tude that aims to skew the truth clearly can­not move the ne­go­ti­a­tions for­ward,” Yildirim said af­ter talks with Turk­ish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci in Ni­cosia. Yildirim was to ad­dress a rally later in Ni­cosia in sup­port of a “yes” vote in the Turk­ish ref­er­en­dum.

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