ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister said Tuesday that Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “turning point” in Europe’s course, stressing that any kind of outcome that could embolden aggression by others must be avoided. nations of the continent.
Greece, which has longstanding disputes with its much larger neighbor Turkey, which brought them to the brink of war three times in the last half century, has expressed strong support for Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion.
“The battle in Ukraine is not just another event on the international scene. It is a turning point in the course of Europe,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
“Today we owe it to Ukraine to prevent any kind of fait accompli that could be imitated tomorrow by new potential troublemakers,” he said.
Mitsotakis noted that he was referring to the “constant aggressive behavior of Turkey”, with whom relations have shown increasing tension over the past two years. Although both are members of NATO, the two countries have decades-long disputes over a number of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Recent disputes have focused on Greek islands off Turkey’s coast, with Ankara accusing Athens of maintaining a military presence there in violation of treaties. Greece responds that it is acting in accordance with international law and is defending its islands against Turkish hostility.
“One thing is certain, we don’t need a new revisionism and revival of imperial fantasies,” Mitsotakis said. “And another thing is also certain, Greece will not tolerate any questioning of its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Greek prime minister said his country was “keeping our doors closed to threats, keeping our windows open to peaceful contacts. Disputes between nations are resolved based on international law, not through intimidation.”
Last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of violating his airspace, something Greece frequently accuses Turkey of doing to its own airspace and denies violating Turkey’s.
“We don’t have a theme like ‘let’s go to war with Greece, let’s go to war.’ But Greece does not keep its promises,” Erdogan said after Friday prayers, accusing Greece of having violated Turkish airspace 147 times.
“Of course, if you’re going to violate our airspace like this, then what’s on us? My air force will give you the necessary images. That is what our air force is doing,” Erdogan said, adding that “our armed forces are doing their duty and if these airspace violations continue after this, we will continue to do our duty in the same way.”
The Turkish president said that the leaders of many NATO countries had tried to reconcile them with Mitsotakis. Erdogan said that “we are not thinking about that at the moment” but that he would see what happens in the future and evaluate it then.
Zeynep Bilginsoy contributed to this report from Istanbul.
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