Duvar English - Reuters
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 23 said that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis "no longer exists" for him, accusing the Greek leader of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.
"We had agreed to not include third countries in our dispute with him. Despite this, last week, he had a visit to the U.S. and talked at the Congress and warned them not to give F-16s to us," Erdoğan said at a news conference following the weekly cabinet meeting.
"He no longer exists for me. I will never agree to meet with him. We will continue our way with honourable politicians."
Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have been at odds over a host of issues such as maritime boundaries, the extent of their continental shelves, airspace, and ethnically split Cyprus.
During his visit to the United States where he met U.S. President Joe Biden and senior U.S. officials last week, Mitsotakis said that Greece will start procedures for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the United States by 2030.
Erdoğan also said that although once Turkey supported Greece's application to NATO, there is no benefit of it to Turkey at the moment.
"Isn't FETÖ's route to Europe currently Greece? Isn't Greece the one who feeds the terrorist organizations inside it?" Erdoğan said referring to the Gülen network, which Ankara calls Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). The government believes that Gülen network members try to flee Turkey especially through Greece in order to avoid jail.
Following Erdoğan's remarks, Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou responded that Mitsotakis defends Greece's rights and international law and that Greece's foreign policy is also based on its alliances.
"We won't get into a counter argument with Turkey's leadership. Our policy is a policy of principles," he said in a statement.