The comments of the Aegean islands of Baerbock in Greece infuriate Turkey | TBEN | 29.07.2022

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday criticized his German counterpart for siding with Greece in the territorial dispute over several islands in the eastern Aegean.

During a press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Cavusoglu said Germany had lost its impartiality in its role as a mediator in the dispute.

Berlin urged not to take sides

“We want Germany to maintain its balanced stance on the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean,” he said, adding that Berlin “must not be a means of provocation and propaganda, especially from the Greek and Greek Cypriot sides.”

Cavusoglu said Berlin should listen to both sides without prejudice.

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Earlier Friday, Baerbock told reporters in Athens that “Lesvos, Chios, Rhodes and many, many others … are Greek territory, and no one has the right to question this.”

Commenting alongside her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, Baerbock added that the German government would stand up for the EU family.

The German minister promised to repeat the message later in the day during her talks in Turkey. Upon arrival in Istanbul, she called for dialogue and respect for each other’s sovereignty.

Athens urged Germany to halt the supply of military equipment to Turkey as long as tensions remain high.

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Turkey has a joint venture with Germany’s Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems to build six 214-class submarines.

Turkish officials say the sovereignty of the eastern Greek islands could be challenged if the country maintains a military presence there in violation of its treaty obligations.

Athens disputes that position, accusing Ankara of conducting frequent military flights from its islands in the eastern Aegean.

Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over sea borders, associated drilling rights and Cyprus: since 1974, the island has been de facto divided into the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus on the southern two-thirds and the Turkish-controlled part in the north.

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Ukraine military swap deal is close

Meanwhile, Baerbock said she hoped for a quick deal with Athens on an arms swap for Ukraine, which would allow the transfer of Soviet-era Greek combat vehicles to Kiev to help fend off the Russian invasion.

According to sources from the Greek Ministry of Defense, about 100 BMP-1 IFVs are involved. Germany will supply Marder IFVs to replace them.

Friday’s trip marks Baerbock’s first official visit to NATO partners, taking place against the backdrop of Russia’s “brutal war of aggression in Ukraine,” the German Foreign Ministry said on its website.

mm, jsi/msh (TBEN, dpa)