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Iran Press TV

Turkey accuses Greece of 'rejecting dialog, lying' in Mediterranean dispute

Iran Press TV

Friday, 04 September 2020 2:42 PM

Turkey has accused Greece of shunning dialog and lying after Athens denied it had agreed to NATO-brokered talks aimed at de-escalating tensions in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu leveled the harsh accusations in a press conference on Friday, after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said talks on reducing tensions in the disputed area could only be held if Ankara stopped making "threats" against his country.

"Let threats go away so that the contacts can begin," Mitsotakis said earlier on Friday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had said on Thursday that alliance members Greece and Turkey had agreed to enter into "technical talks" to avoid accidental clashes in the eastern Mediterranean.

However, Greece later denied that it had agreed to the talks and said Stoltenberg's statement did not "correspond to reality."

Cavusoglu said Greece was the party that was "lying."

"Greece denied the secretary general's (remarks) but the one lying here is not the NATO secretary general, it's Greece itself," Cavusoglu said. "Greece showed once more than it's not in favor of dialog."

Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions started to escalate between the NATO allies on August 10, when a Turkish research vessel escorted by warships sailed into the disputed waters. Greece dispatched its own naval vessels to shadow the Turkish ships.

While the European Union (EU) has called for dialog, it has sided with member Greece. France has been particularly assertive against Turkey, building up military presence in the region and conducting joint drills with Greece.

Cavusoglu further took aim at France, calling its conduct "hysterical."

"Who is supporting Greece? Who is provoking Greece the most? France. France has its own goals here. What is France's link to the eastern Mediterranean? My advice to France is this: this hysterical behavior will benefit no one," the Turkish foreign minister said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously lashed at the leaders of France and Greece, calling them "greedy and incompetent" for challenging Ankara's energy exploration in the disputed waters.

The EU has also threatened Turkey with sanctions over the matter.

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