During his visit to Athens on Thursday, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned Turkey—without naming it—for questioning Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands.
“It is not acceptable for a NATO ally to question another one’s sovereignty,” he said during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after their meeting.
Scholz said that differences between Greece and Turkey “can be resolved through dialogue and based on international law,” adding that “good neighborly relations are of importance not only for the two countries but for Europe and the transatlantic alliance as a whole.”
Mitsotakis had criticized Turkey’s aggressive rhetoric earlier, saying that Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine left no room for more tensions in Europe.
“There is no room for other, unnecessary sources of tension,” he said. “Greek islands do not threaten anyone.”
He added that “our neighbors will hopefully choose the path of de-escalation.”
Scholz started his official visit to Greece with a tour of the Acropolis on Thursday. Mitsotakis, who speaks German, assumed the responsibilities of a tour guide.
Greece again raises issue of war reparations
The issue of war reparations for the Nazi occupation of World War II and especially the forced occupation loan remains an “open issue” for Athens, Mitsotakis said.
“Its settlement would be especially beneficial, particularly at a time when Greek-German alignment in the face of the challenges of the times is unshakeable, chiefly on the Russian invasion of Ukraine where we once again ascertained that our views are identical,” he maintained.
“Europe cannot tolerate, after eighty years, a new war at its heart nor allow the repetition of a fait accompli of invasion and occupation,” Mitsotakis said while noting that such a situation still prevailed in Cyprus.
Olaf Scholz’s agenda in Greece visit
The tank swap deal and the energy issue will be the focus of the German chancellor’s visit.
Earlier in October, Greece received the first batch of tanks from Germany following an agreement between Athens and Berlin according to which Greece will send forty Soviet-designed tanks to Ukraine.
The first six tanks are infantry fighting vehicles known as “Marder.” Greece will receive another thirty-four tanks in the next few weeks.
The German government has also concluded similar tank swapping deals with the Czech Republic and Poland.
Greece-Germany deepening economic ties
Chancellor Scholz will also focus on deepening economic ties between Greece and Germany.
According to the latest German statistics, German exports to Greece rose by 16.3 percent to 5.2 billion euros in the first eight months of 2022 when compared with the same period last year.
German imports from Greece saw an increase of 7.5 percent and amounted to circa two billion euros. Green energy collaboration is similarly flourishing, as is the case with German foreign direct investments in Greece.
Bank of Greece data demonstrate that Germany was among the top three investors in the decade from 2011 to 2021.
Greece has also proposed a power link to Austria and Germany that would transport renewable energy.
“We have already submitted a proposal to Austria, to my Austrian counterpart and my German counterpart to build a power interconnection to link Greece with Austria and further with southern Germany,” Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas announced at a renewable energy conference in Athens recently.
Skrekas said that the cable, which would run through Albania and other Balkan countries, would have an initial capacity of three gigawatts that could be ramped up to nine gigawatts.