Greece said on Friday it wanted a “positive agenda” with Turkey despite differences, a day after their foreign ministers clashed during a news conference, while President Tayyip Erdogan defended Ankara’s response.
The comments appeared aimed at easing the atmosphere after an ill-tempered exchange between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, as they stood side by side following a meeting in the Turkish capital.
“Each side has its own views, clearly manifested during the press conference many of you may have seen,” Dendias said at a summit in Cyprus attended by his Cypriot and Israeli counterparts as well as a senior official from the UAE.
“However I would also like to underline the commitment of the Greek government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to seek a positive agenda in our bilateral relations with Turkey, starting with economic and trade relations,” Dendias said, adding he had invited Cavusoglu to Athens.
The unusually public argument at Thursday’s media briefing once again laid bare differences between the NATO allies which are at odds over many issues, from competing claims over the extent of their continental shelves in the Mediterranean to air space, energy resources, Cyprus and the status of some islands in the Aegean.
Tensions flared last summer when Turkey sent a drilling ship to contested Mediterranean waters, but have eased slightly after Ankara withdrew the vessel and the countries resumed talks over their disputes following a five-year hiatus.
Erdogan said there had been a “friendly atmosphere” when he met Dendias on Thursday but that the tone had shifted during the news conference when Dendias told Cavusoglu any violation of Greece’s sovereignty would be met by sanctions. Cavusoglu branded the comments unacceptable.
“In the face of Dendias’s behaviour and attitude, our foreign minister reminded him of his place,” Erdogan told reporters.
“He couldn’t act softly (any more). So he (Cavusoglu) finished the job by taking the necessary stance and making the necessary remarks. Of course, we don’t find this (Dendias’s attitude) appropriate.”