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Germany’s Green Party, opposition accuse Erdoğan of fueling tension with Greece

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Members of Germany’s Green Party, part of the coalition government, and an opposition party have criticized what they called provocative discourse from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against Greece, accusing the president of deliberately fueling tension with the neighboring country, the Turkish edition of the Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Thursday.

Erdoğan has recently delivered controversial speeches to mark the 100th anniversary of Turkey’s victory in a three-year war against Greece that completed the creation of the post-Ottoman state.

He has repeatedly accused NATO ally Greece of “occupying” Aegean islands whose status was settled in post-war treaties and has warned that Turkey’s armed forces could “come overnight” and “do what is necessary.”

Jürgen Trittin, a foreign policy spokesman for the Green Party and a member of the German Parliament, and Max Lucks, another member of the German Parliament from the Green Party, released a joint statement on Tuesday in which they directed accusations at Erdoğan due to his “threats” against Greece.

“An escalation in the Aegean must be prevented. It is unacceptable that President Erdogan is deliberately fueling the conflict between Turkey and Greece with provocative statements and military exercises in the immediate vicinity of the Greek border. Maneuvers in which the capture of stretches of coast is rehearsed near the border with Greece are to be avoided, as are the Turkish president’s verbal threats of invasion. Turkey is once again attracting attention by trying to destabilize its direct neighborhood with an aggressive military presence,” their statement said.

The Green politicians said the Greek islands belong to Greece and that nobody has the right to question this while recalling that Athens has the right to self-defense and that Greek troops can be stationed on the islands for this purpose.

Erdoğan’s increased verbal attacks on Greece have come at a time when elections are looming in Turkey, expected to be the most difficult in Erdoğan’s 20-year-long rule. It is very common for Erdoğan to adopt nationalist rhetoric ahead of every election to woo conservative and nationalist voters.

The Green politicians said both Greece and Turkey are important partners of Germany and called on Ankara to act as a partner, respect international law and refrain from threatening gestures towards Greece.

Sevim Dağdelen, an MP from the German opposition Left Party, described Erdoğan’s “threats” against Greece very “dangerous” and called on the German government to impose a full arms embargo on Turkey.

Dağdelen said the German government should not remain silent in the wake of Erdoğan’s “threats” against Greece; to the contrary it should take them very seriously and condemn them in the strongest terms possible.

“It is high time for the federal government to impose an arms embargo on Erdoğan, who is notorious for constantly violating the international law,” Dağdelen told DW.

Turkey and Greece have for years feuded over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in disputed parts of the Aegean, which separates the two countries, and in the eastern Mediterranean.

Athens also accuses Ankara of flying over Greek islands, while Turkey has been angered by recent Greek defense agreements with France and the United States.

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