US says Turkey and Greece should resolve differences diplomatically

US says Turkey and Greece should resolve differences diplomatically
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The US Ambassador to Athens George Tsunis said Washington’s policy regarding the Greek-Turkish relations as "extremely consistent”

George Tsunis, the US ambassador to Athens said Turkey and Greece should resolve their differences diplomatically and in accordance with the international law.

"The primary principle is that Greece and Turkey should discuss and resolve their differences diplomatically and in accordance with international law. There is no other choice. A lot is at stake,” the Greek City Times cited Tsunis as saying in an interview with Greek broadcaster ANT1 on Monday.

Describing Washington’s policy regarding the Greek-Turkish relations as "extremely consistent”, Tsunis said they will continue to urge Athens and Ankara to choose diplomatic channels to resolve their differences. 

Hostile rhetoric "is neither constructive nor productive," Tsunis said.

Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have long been at odds over a string of issues, including territorial claims over the Mediterranean and the Aegean. The tensions between Ankara and Athens have build up lately over the status of the Aegean islands, where Turkey blames Greece for “illegally” militarizing its islands in violation of international treaties. 

“I know that both Greece and Turkey are seeking peace. There are differences in many relationships. But peace is the primary principle in this case and can only be achieved diplomatically," Tsunis said, adding that the differences between the two countries are not unique and can be resolved. 

“I hope that in the near future, the existing differences between Greece and Turkey will be settled through diplomatic channels," he said, stressing that both Turkey and Greece are very respected allies and very important members of the NATO.

In response to a question whether Greece will be alone if it faces an attack, the US envoy said “the Greek army is capable of protecting the homeland.”

Washington will work tirelessly for peace, he said.

Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blamed the United States for upsetting its balance over its relations with Turkey and Greece, in response to the US statements stressing that Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands is not disputed.

“The United States should not take sides among the allies,” he said, urging the Washington administration to backtrack from such “mistake.”

In September, Ankara lodged protests to Greece and the United States, after Turkish officials released drone footage allegedly showing US-supplied armored vehicles being carried out of ships on Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos.

Summoning the Greek ambassador to Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the deployment was another violation of Greece's obligations under international law. Turkey also urged the US to respect for the status of Eastern Aegean islands and to take measures to prevent the use of its weapons there.

In the written statement, US State Department said at a time when Russia has again invaded a sovereign European state, statements that could increase tensions between NATO allies are not particularly helpful.

“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected,” the statement said.

Turkey says despite the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris that require Greece’s eastern Aegean islands to remain demilitarised, 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.