Greece and Turkey agreed to reduce tension and keep communication channels open during a meeting between the countries’ defense ministers on Thursday.
Greek National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos held a brief meeting with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on the sidelines of the NATO defense ministers summit held in Brussels.
Emphasized in this meeting was the importance of maintaining open communication channels in the spirit of good neighborly relations, a Greek ministry statement said, and focusing on a positive agenda that will contribute to building a better climate and regional cooperation.
Within this framework, the Greek minister stressed the importance of reducing tension.
The discussion in Brussels between Akar and Panagiotopoulos focused on the “importance of continuing the dialogue in order to reduce tensions,” according to a Turkish Ministry of Defense statement.
They discussed the need to maintain open channels of communication, a positive agenda, and bilateral and regional cooperation, according to the statement.
Turkey escalates tension with Greece demanding demilitarization of islands
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece to demilitarize its islands in the Aegean, saying he was “not joking.” He spoke during Turkish military exercises near the islands, including an amphibious landing scenario.
“I warn Greece to avoid dreams, acts and statements that will result in regret. Come to your senses,” he said.
“Turkey will not renounce its rights in the Aegean and will not back down from using rights that are established by international agreements when it comes to arming islands,” he said.
Greece is acting as if it is making touristic landings on Aegean islands, he said and added, addressing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis: “You can’t get anywhere with this.”
The Turkish leader also claimed that the US bases in Greece may be targeting his country instead of Russia.
“There are nine US bases right now. They were established in Greece. Against whom were they established? The answer they give is ‘against Russia.’ We don’t buy it, take no offense,” Erdogan said during a joint press conference with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.