The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has voiced concern about deteriorating relations between Greece and Turkey, warning Turkey that any attempt to undermine Greece’s borders and rights would be considered an equal affront to the EU, Voice of America reported.
Greece has long complained to the EU about its troubled relations with neighboring Turkey.
Waging what critics call gunboat diplomacy, Turkey has threatened to use force against Greece if it moves to block it from drilling for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean in waters Greece considers its own. In recent weeks, it has also threatened to send a flood of refugees to the West. The EU and its foreign policy chief, Borrell, are now rallying to defend Greece as never before.
“You have been informing us about Turkey’s drilling activities, overflights, maritime claims that have led to a significant deterioration in relations between Greece and Turkey,” said Borrell.
“I wanted to come here and see for myself the situation on the border.”
The northeast border region of Evros has become a key flashpoint in escalating tensions between the two countries after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lifted border controls earlier this year, allowing more than 100,000 migrants and refugees to enter Europe, leaving Greece to defend EU borders.
Accompanying Borrell on his border tour, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece is willing to settle differences with its longtime foe, but not under what he called its bullying terms and behavior.
“We are always open to dialogue but will not do so under duress. Nor will we help legitimize Turkey’s persistent violation of legality,” said Dendias. “It is violating almost daily national airspace, territorial waters, including overflights over inhabited areas here in Evros, and the Aegean Sea by armed warplanes.
Brussels’ support for Greece is important as the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will attend a key EU summit in the coming weeks to address Turkey’s actions as well as growing fears of an armed conflict following remarks by leading Turkish officials that Ankara would use force to drill in contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean.