EU top diplomat warns Turkey not to take steps escalating tensions with Greece

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said in a letter to Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu that Turkey had taken steps in the “opposite direction to de-escalate" the crisis with Greece, according to reporting by Kathimerini.

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European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has written a letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, saying that Turkey had taken steps in the “opposite direction to de-escalate" the crisis with Greece, diplomatic sources told Greek daily Kathimerini.

Borrell reportedly said in the letter that “the overflights over Greek territory, statements that question Greece’s non-negotiable sovereignty over Aegean islands, as well as the escalation of hostile rhetoric against Greece and the Greek people, are moving in the opposite direction to de-escalation.”

Borrell’s letter came after Çavuşoğlu's comments that "Greece is responsible for the crisis."

"Turkey's visibility and success in the international arena is driving Greece crazy. For this reason, Greece also wants to provoke Turkey. In addition, Greece constantly brings up issues such as Turkey's non-participation in sanctions (against Russia) and therefore tourists coming to Turkey. Obviously, they were very upset about it. We attribute the steps taken by Greece to this," Çavuşoğlu said on Sept. 14. 

Earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Athens of "occupying" the Aegean Sea islands, saying that Turkey was prepared to "do what is necessary."

In return, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis deemed the Turkish president's remarks “unacceptable” and said that Erdoğan has been utilizing "nationalism" and "increased tensions" before the upcoming elections.

Ankara says the Aegean islands were given to Greece under the 1923 and 1947 treaties on the condition that it does not arm them. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has repeatedly said Turkey would start questioning Greek sovereignty over the islands if Athens persisted in arming them.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also commented on the issue, referring to Erdoğan and Mitsotakis as “populists who play war card as their votes are declining.”