Turkey rules out war with Greece over maritime problems

Turkey rules out war with Greece over maritime problems

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Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has negated his Greek counterpart’s concerns of an armed conflict between Turkey and Greece over the maritime disputes in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, calling on Athens to resume technical talks for the resolution of the problems.

“I want to underline in a mathematical certainty that Greeks would not want to stage a war with Turkey,” Akar told the private broadcaster A Haber in an interview on June 10.

Akar’s words came a week after Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that his country was ready for a military conflict with Turkey to defend its sovereign rights in the Mediterranean. “[His statement] is a slip of tongue,” Akar said.

Turkey has always been seeking good neighborly relations with Greece and resolution of all the problems stemming from Aegean, Cyprus and the land borders through dialogue, the minister said, recalling some progress was made during the past talks.

“We had three rounds of talks with our Greek partners. Two in Athens and one in Ankara. We are renewing our calls for holding the fourth meeting in Ankara,” the minister stated.

Akar, however, urged Greece not to look at these issues in a selfish way and to come to the table with a respect to Turkey’s sovereign rights as well. “They cite the Lausanne Treaty. Yes, we also want to abide by the Lausanne Treaty. Greece is arming 16 out of 23 islands in the Aegean which must preserve their demilitarized status, according to Lausanne. Is talking about it a threat?” he asked.

There is no country, except for Greece, which claims a 10-mile air space while it has six-mile territorial waters, Akar said, adding, “We are trying to preserve our calmness against this kind of assertive claims by Greece.”

On a question about an ongoing discussion about the opening of the Hagia Sophia to worship, Akar said it is an internal issue of Turkey and no country, including Greece, can have a say in it.

“Greece, or no other country, can achieve anything by anti-Turkey and anti-Islam stances,” he stated.

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