Turkey's position over Aegean islands 'absurd,' says Greek PM Mitsotakis

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that it is "absurd" of Turkey to question Greece's sovereignty over the Aegean islands and that this situation makes any talks between the two countries difficult.


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on June 14 said Turkey's position that questions Greece's sovereignty over its Aegean islands is "absurd," rendering any talks between the two countries difficult.

"Turkey's objections, as they were phrased in the latest letters to the United Nations, are absolutely absurd as they raise questions about Greece's sovereignty over its islands," Mitsotakis said in a preview of an interview to be broadcast by state television ERT later on on June 14. "We cannot have any discussion over the absurd."

NATO allies Greece and Turkey have long been at odds over issues ranging from maritime boundaries and claims over their continental shelves in the Mediterranean, to airspace, migrants and ethnically split Cyprus.

Tensions flared up again recently, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying that Greece should stop arming islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarised status and abide by international agreements. Ankara says the Aegean islands were given to Greece under the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris treaties on the condition it does not arm them.

Athens has said that Turkey's remarks about it arming the islands are unfounded. Both countries have sent letters to the United Nations outlining their rival positions on airspace and the islands.

Erdoğan last month said 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.

Mitsotakis said the two leaders would inevitably meet at some point and they should not stop talking to each other.

"We need to meet each other and we need to discuss ... we need to be able to agree that we disagree but we need to agree on the framework for solving our differences," Mitsotakis said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on June 14 urged Greece and Turkey to refrain from any actions or rhetoric that could escalate the situation.

"At a time when (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, it is even more important for allies to stand together," he said in an interview with Greek semi-state Athens News Agency.

In 2021 Greece and Turkey resumed bilateral talks on improving ties after a five-year hiatus but have made little progress. Last week Erdoğan announced that Turkey was halting all bilateral talks.