Erdogan: “Akar thanks his Greek counterpart for not going to Imia”
“We had threatened to respond differently if they ended up going”
After the crisis with the research vessel at Oruc Reis, the communication channels between Athens and Ankara began to open. The Minister of Defense of Turkey Hulusi Akar had today a phone contact with the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.
During the phone communication between the two Ministers, there was a discussion on the forthcoming NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels on 12-13 February 2020, as well the continuation of the dialogue on Confidence Building Measures to be held in Athens between 17 -21 February 2020.
However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued that during this phone communication Akar thanked his Greek counterpart for Greece’s non-presence in Imia which led to any kind of tension being averted. At the same time, he said that Turkey had sent messages to Athens before the Imia anniversary. “This year we did not have a crisis in Kardak (Imia). And why is that? Because we adopted a certain attitude. We have said that if a move like the ones in the past was made again, then we would respond differently; and you will see that if Greece does not make any move in the Kardak (Imia), our side will not make a move either. My defense minister would probably call on the Greek Defense Minister to thank him and for this process in the Kardak (Imia) to go on in the other islands as well”, Erdogan said.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in a meeting Wednesday with representatives of European Union countries in Ankara, fired shots when addressing the issue.
When the debate shifted to Turkey’s actions on hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the Eastern Mediterranean, Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed: “If the negative attitude towards the Turkish-Cypriot rights continues, then we will take steps against any EU sanction”.
“The time has come,” he added, to open a new page in our process of joining the Union.
In his speech to his party’s parliamentary group, the Turkish President reacted strongly to the deaths of 8 Turkish soldiers following the assassination of Assad’s forces in Idlib. He sent an ultimatum to Damascus by the end of February to withdraw its forces from Idlib.
“Within February, we hope the [Syrian] regime’s forces will recede, as they must, to the points agreed upon. Otherwise we will have to enforce it.
Since at Idlib they cannot ensure the security of our soldiers, then no one can prevent Turkey from doing so”.
“Our Air Force and Army forces at Idlib will be able to move around freely and conduct business at any time”, Erdogan said.
However, the Turkish President might be giving the ultimatum as a politician trying to find a balance in relations with Moscow that backs Assad. He explained to Turkish journalists Ankara’s important relations with Russia.
“There is no need at this time to conflict or intensify things with Russia. We have strategic steps with Moscow; the nuclear power plant for example, the investment amount of which is very large. Already 300 scientists of ours received training. There’s the Turk Stream pipeline with which we provide Europe with gas. We also buy most of our gas from Russia. We’ll get the S-400s. We have a $ 25 billion trade relationship and the first in tourist arrivals are the Russians then the Germans. These cannot be overlooked. So we’ll sit down and talk”, he said. /ibna