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Germany’s Scholz rejects Turkey’s sovereignty claims about Aegean islands

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday rejected Turkish claims on the sovereignty of Greek islands, part of a barrage of verbal attacks from Ankara which the Greek PM termed “poison” and “lies,” Agence France-Presse reported.

A NATO partner “should not” question the sovereignty of another member,” Scholz said in joint comments with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“All such issues should be resolved on the basis of international law,” said the German leader, who is on his first visit to Greece as chancellor.

“It is truly a shame that (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan cannot see he is heading towards an impasse, when he poisons his people with lies against Greece,” Mitsotakis added.

Greece and Turkey, which are both members of the US-led NATO defense alliance, have feuded for years over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in the Aegean and east Mediterranean seas.

In an interview with French weekly Le Point, also published on Thursday, Mitsotakis said the language used in “undeniably escalating rhetoric” by Erdoğan and his senior officials in recent months was “unprecedented.”

Whilst acknowledging that Erdoğan’s aggressiveness could be linked to a tough re-election campaign next year, Mitsotakis noted that Athens “cannot ignore that these statements confirm an aggressive and expansionist stance towards Greece.”

“President Erdoğan… now says he could invade my country during the night,” the Greek premier said.

Erdoğan has lately accused Greece of “occupying” Aegean islands whose status was settled in treaties adopted after World War I.

In response, Athens accuses Turkey of conducting hundreds of illegal military sorties over the islands.

“Our neighbors and all our partners know that the Greek islands threaten no-one,” Mitsotakis said at the news conference with Scholz.

“Everyone knows that international agreements do not change through arbitrary interpretations. Nor does history change through delusions, or geography through forged maps.”

Last month, the United States said that Greek sovereignty was not in doubt, after Turkey lodged a protest over the deployment of Greek armored vehicles on the islands of Lesbos and Samos.

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