EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): For the first time in memory, Germany has officially and openly supported Greece against Turkish aggressiveness in the Aegean, and this caused quite a stir in her meeting in Istanbul with Turkish FM Cavusoglu. It is clear that Turkey is geopolitically moving eastwards – and the Russian support in the energy sector is only one of the many reasons. Russia just sent Turkey $15 Billion to the company that will finish the first nuclear power plant built by a Russian company, and Russia supplies a considerable percentage of Turkey’s oil and gas. But also Turkey has several “brotherly” states in Asia, from Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan to Kazakstan… And finally the center of gravity of the whole of humanity is moving East…
On the other side of the equation, Greece’s and Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone is the only serious hope the EU has to be energy independent…
Baerbock’s Aegean islands remarks in Greece anger Turkey
Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over the eastern Aegean islands. During a visit to Athens, Germany’s foreign minister said the “islands are Greek territory,” drawing a strong rebuke from Turkey.
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.
Speaking at a news conference alongside German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Cavusoglu said Germany had lost impartiality in its role as mediator in the dispute.
Berlin urged not to take sides
“We want Germany to maintain its balanced stance in the issue of the east Mediterranean and the Aegean,” he said, adding that Berlin “should not be a tool for provocation and propaganda, especially by Greece and Greek Cypriot side.”
Cavusoglu said Berlin needs to listen to both sides without prejudice.
Earlier Friday, Baerbock told reporters in Athens that “Lesbos, Chios, Rhodes and many, many others … are Greek territory, and no one has the right to query this.”
In comments alongside her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, Baerbock added that the German government would stand up for the EU family.
The German minister vowed to reiterate the message during her talks in Turkey later in the day. Upon arrival in Istanbul, she called for dialogue and respect for each other’s sovereignty.
Athens urged Germany to halt the delivery of military equipment to Turkey while tensions remain elevated.
Turkey has a joint venture with Germany’s Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems to build six 214-class submarines.
Turkish officials say the sovereignty of eastern Greek islands can be disputed if the country maintains a military presence there in violation of its treaty commitments.
Athens contests that stance, accusing Ankara of conducting frequent military overflights of its islands in the eastern Aegean Sea.
Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over sea boundaries, related drilling rights and Cyprus: Since 1974, the island has been divided, de facto, into the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus on the southern two-thirds and the Turkish-controlled part in the north.
Ukraine military swap deal is close
Meanwhile, Baerbock said she was hopeful of a speedy deal with Athens on a weapons swap for Ukraine that would allow Greece’s Soviet-era combat vehicles to be transferred to Kyiv to help fight off Russia’s invasion.
According to Greek Defence Ministry sources, around 100 BMP-1 IFVs are involved. Germany is to supply Marder IFVs to replace them.
Friday’s trip marks Baerbock’s first official visit to the NATO partners, which is 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 (AP, dpa)