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Germany’s Scholz warns Turkey to refrain from provoking Greece

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called on Turkey to exercise restraint towards Greece as tensions between the two countries have escalated due to an ongoing spat over islands and airspace in the Aegean Sea, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a German government spokesperson.

“The chancellor is of the opinion that, given the current situation, it is necessary for all NATO allies to stand together and refrain from provocations among themselves,” the spokesperson told a regular news conference in Berlin.

He added that invading Greek airspace and flying over Greek islands “isn’t okay” and that it seemed “counterproductive and against the spirit of the alliance.”

Saying that Germany was committed to resolving the open questions between Greece and Turkey in private dialogue and on the basis of international law, the spokesperson also said, “We cannot accept the questioning of the sovereignty of member states of the European Union.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Scholz’s statement, saying: “We strongly condemn and reject baseless statements against our country by Germany’s chancellor’s office. We expect Germany to invite Greece to act in accordance with international agreements, rather than making biased statements, not in line with the spirit of alliance.”

The warning came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday said in a speech to his parliamentary group in Ankara that he would no longer have bilateral meetings with Greek leaders.

Referring to an agreement sealed in 2010 between Turkey and Greece, which provided for regular high-level meetings to develop cooperation between the two countries, Erdoğan said: “You know that we had a high strategic council agreement with Greece. I notified our foreign minister yesterday, we have broken this agreement.”

Greece and Turkey have traded accusations of airspace violations in recent weeks.

Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have long been at odds over a host of issues such as maritime boundaries, the extent of their continental shelves and airspace, and relations with ethnically split Cyprus.

Turkey has intensified its criticism of Greece since Mitsotakis told the US Congress during a visit to Washington last month that overflights over Greek islands were “open acts of aggression that violate our sovereignty and our territorial rights.”

Turkish pro-government media interpreted this speech as a call to Washington not to provide the F-16 fighter jets long requested by Turkey.

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