Heated exchange between Greece and Turkey at the European Summit

Heated exchange between Greece and Turkey at the European Summit
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis responded to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan after Erdogan’s speech accusing Athens of provocation

A heated exchange took place on Thursday between Greek and Turkish leaders during a summit in Prague, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

When Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attacked Greece saying Athens was raising tension in the region with provocative actions during his speech in the summit of European Political Community, the Greek Prime Minister immediately responded that Turkey must stop questioning the sovereignty of Greece’s Aegean islands, Kathimerini said.

He also called on Erdogan to refrain from further provocations and said that there should be communication and dialogue without extreme rhetoric, “like responsible leaders should do.”

Erdogan told journalists later that Mitsotakis’ response was out of bounds according to the general diplomatic rules. 

“He said that we used expressions that sounded a bit harsh to him. In fact, it was nothing serious,” Erdogan said. 

Erdogan also accused Mitsotakis of dishonesty about starting talks between Greece and Turkey. 

“When you say, 'Let's get together', they do not agree to meet with regional countries. But they are waiting for Turkey to take the first step.” Erdogan said. 

Before the Prague summit, Greek government spokesman Ioannis Oikonomou said Mitsotakis would agree to meet with Erdogan if Turkey requested a meeting.

Erdogan had said last year that Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him after Mitsotakis’ criticism of Turkey during a trip to the US.

Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have long been at odds over a string of issues, including the status of the Aegean islands 

Rift over Aegean Islands

Turkey accuses Greece for militarizing its islands and building American bases in violation of international treaties. 

Turkey says despite the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris that require Greece’s eastern Aegean islands to remain demilitarized, Athens has armed 16 out of the 23 islands, in violation of international law. In response to Turkish claims, Greece says the restrictions no longer apply.

Erdogan last month said “Greece occupies the islands” and “"When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. As we say, all of a sudden, we can come overnight."