Ambassador Christodoulos Lazaris was reportedly summoned after Greece allowed a protest near the Turkish embassy in Athens by the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey and the European Union regard as a terrorist group.
According to Anadolu’s “diplomatic sources,” the Greek ambassador was also informed that “terror organizations easily carry out propaganda, financing and recruitment activities in Greece and Greece’s identity as a ‘safe haven’ has increased in circles associated with terrorism.”
Turkey also recently accused Finland and Sweden of harboring people linked to groups it deems to be terrorist organizations. Turkish officials have repeatedly presented the claim as the reason for their objection to the two Scandinavian nations’ bids to join NATO.
Greece’s response to Turkey’s claims
Speaking to Greek network SKAI TV on Saturday, government representative Ioannis Oikonomou dismissed Turkey’s claims about Greece facilitating terrorist groups as groundless and unsubstantiated.
“Greece is a safe and stable country [and] the entire world recognizes that,” Oikonomou emphasized.
The vigilance of the Greek state is a given, as are its reflexes against the “unquiet neighbor,” he said, adding that there is no reason for unnecessary tensions in view of the summer tourist season during which Greece prepares to welcome record numbers of international tourists to its islands.
The escalation of Turkey’s provocations has been condemned by the whole Western world, Oikonomou pointed out in reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest series of inflammatory comments about Greece and related actions.
Erdogan has turned up the heat in recent weeks with personal attacks against Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis, increased overflights over Greek islands, and boatloads of migrants sailing towards Greece.
Last weekend, the Turkish President reportedly told Turkish journalists: “Mitsotakis is no longer my interlocutor. I only deal with people who do politics in the right way.”
Greek Defense Minister confident of Greece’s security
Asked about the Turkish President’s statement, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told newspaper Manifesto that Erdogan “always provokes tension whenever he feels threatened or faces problems at home.”
“This simply served to strengthen arguments presented by Greece, however, and to expose Erdogan to the international community,” Panagiotopoulos added in his interview with the newspaper on Friday.
“We are not the ones that will cut off channels of communication but dialogue is not consistent with aggressive rhetoric and provocative behavior,” he said, and “the Turkish President needs to understand that Greece is a pillar of stability for the surrounding region but will not cut corners in the defense of its sovereign rights.”
“It is our capabilities that deter the other side from daring a military engagement…because they know the heavy cost that they will be forced to pay. Our armed forces are at all times vigilant, fully ready and decisive,” Panagiotopoulos stated.
The Greek Defense Minister appeared equally confident of the support of the EU.
“Greece should not worry…European countries were and are protected. My view is that no problem can arise with the security of Greece or any other European country,” he concluded.
Greece’s Foreign Minister’s comments on Turkey’s allegations
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also commented on the recent tension in the relations between the two countries in the context of his official visit to Serbia on Friday.
Τhe region has to stay away from false promises & we have to address the issue of Revisionist powers that want to turn the clock of our region back, in order to revive old Empires & try to redraw the map of the Balkans (statement following my meeting with FM of 🇷🇸, N. Selaković). pic.twitter.com/UAxtnTfDyB
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) June 3, 2022
In a press conference following his meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković on Friday, Dendias said: “Turkey is openly questioning Greek sovereignty on the Aegean islands, making baseless allegations. And I have to say that we openly reject these allegations. We remain firm in protecting our interests. Our interests according to International Law, to International Law of the Sea, our interests in accordance with the UN Charter.”
Selaković also commented on the issue, saying that Serbia will be “absolutely consistent in supporting the territorial integrity of Greece on land and at sea…based on International Law, including the Law of the Sea,” the Athens News Agency reported.