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US, German officials react to map showing major Greek islands as Turkish

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A map presented by the far-right coalition partner of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that shows a number of Greek islands as Turkish has drawn a strong response from US and German officials, who state that Greece’s territorial integrity and sovereignty cannot be questioned, the Ekathimerini English service reported on Wednesday.

The map was made public earlier this week during a visit by Devlet Bahçeli, Erdoğan’s election ally and leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to the headquarters of the ultranationalist Grey Wolves, where Bahçeli was photographed next to it.

The map showing half the Aegean Sea and Crete under Turkish control was a gift to the MHP leader from the ultranationalist group, which is seen as the militant wing of the MHP. The Grey Wolves’ ideology is mainly based on Turkish nationalism; therefore, Kurds and other minorities in Turkey have occasionally been their targets.

Ekathimerini on Wednesday cited a US State Department spokesman stating that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Greece is not in question.”

“Our position on this issue is clear. We continue to encourage our NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve disputes in a diplomatic manner. We urge our allies to avoid rhetoric and actions that could further escalate tension,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

Germany’s ambassador in Athens, Ernst Reichel, also said in a tweet on Tuesday that “Any questioning of Greece’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is unacceptable.”

“The German position is clear,” Reichel wrote.

Posting an image of Bahçeli with the map, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday tweeted: “Take a good look at this map. Crete, Rhodes, Lesvos, Chios, Samos all consumed by Turkey.”

He then called on Erdoğan to clarify whether what was shown on the map was “a fever dream of extremists or Turkey’s official policy?”

Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over a series of issues, including disputes over undersea exploration rights in the Aegean Sea and the sovereignty of uninhabited islets.

Tensions between the two countries have again increased over the past two years. Recent quarrels have focused on Greek islands off Turkey’s coast, where Ankara accuses Athens of maintaining a military presence in violation of treaties. Greece counters it is acting according to international law and is defending its islands in the face of Turkish hostility.

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