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Erdogan at odds with NATO, cites Greece

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen during a NATO summit at the Alliance’s HQ in Brussels last year. [Reuters]

Ahead of the visit on Monday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the White House, Athens is taking stock of the statements on Friday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who cited Greece to express Ankara’s disagreement over the possibility of Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland carefully, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Erdogan told reporters, referring to the alleged support of these countries for Kurdish militants and the outlawed communist DHKP-C. The Nordic countries, he said, along with the Netherlands, “have become a haven for terrorist organizations.”

He said Ankara does not want a repeat of the “mistake” that was made with fellow NATO member Greece, who he accused of using the Alliance against Turkey.

“The previous administrations of NATO made a mistake regarding Greece, and you know the attitude that Greece has toward Turkey. We do not want to make a second mistake,” he said.

Referring to Mitsotakis’ talks in Washington with US President Joe Biden, Erdogan said he will reveal Ankara’s stance after the leaders make their statements.

“I do not know what kind of statements Biden can make or will make. And of course Mitsotakis’ messages are a separate issue. Therefore, after seeing everything, especially after seeing Biden’s statements, we will reveal our attitude.”

Athens is concerned about the resumption of indirect but clear threats against Greece, which are combined with the recent hints that Turkey is planning new drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The general estimate in Greece is that the tensions of recent weeks, primarily in the Aegean and the incendiary rhetoric emanating from Ankara, are part of an attempt to pique Washington’s interest, despite the fact that the Biden administration has already indicated a clear shift toward improving relations with Turkey.

All these considerations will be be raised by Mitsotakis with the White House. 

Athens is expected to stress, in addition to Turkish overflights in the Aegean, that Erdogan is publicly undermining NATO unity, repeatedly, as Ankara is already acting as a mediator while not taking part in sanctions against Russia on purpose to reap financial benefits.

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Krzysztof Stanowicz

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