Greece undermines NATO alliance: Turkish defense chief

Greece undermines NATO alliance: Turkish defense chief
# 09 January 2022 01:31 (UTC +04:00)

Greece has undermined NATO by attempting to form alliances against Turkiye within the bloc, the Turkish national defense minister said on Saturday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Ankara, Hulusi Akar said Athens was pursuing expansionist policies in the region, violating international law.

Akar said the two countries were at odds on a number of issues, including Greece's aggressive armament policy, its arming of non-militarized islands in the Aegean Sea, policy of suppression of its Turkish minority, and unfounded claims in the Eastern Mediterranean violating the rights of Turkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Disputes on maritime delimitation, air space and flight information, were also among the major issues between Ankara and Athens, he said.

"Despite all these problems and provocations we urge them to negotiate. We want negotiated solutions based on good neighborly relations," Akar underlined.

He also slammed aerial and maritime violations by Greece, as well as provocative statements by Greek politicians against Turkiye.

On Greece's arms purchases and maximalist claims, Akar said Athens was punching above its weight.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Akar further criticized Greece's policy to push back asylum seekers trying to reach its shores via the Aegean Sea, reiterating that these actions were a gross violation of international law, as well as basic human rights.

He also maintained that Athens was using its EU membership as a tool and that the bloc overlooks Greece's illegal and illegitimate claims.

Turkiye remains resolute in protecting its interests and rights, as well as those of Turkish Cypriots, Akar added.

Among other things, the Turkish defense chief also spoke on ties with the US, stressing that the process was underway on Turkiye's request for modernization kits for 80 of its F-16 aircraft, as well as to add 40 more F-16 Block 70 Vipers to its inventory.

Maintaining that some NATO members had imposed open or covert arms embargos or measures to delay arms transfers to the country, Akar warned that such policies and practices would harm NATO's capabilities and deterrence.