ANKARA -Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said it was impossible to meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis until the Greek leader “pulls himself together”, broadcaster NTV said on Friday, amid renewed tensions between the NATO members and neighbours.
Historic rivals, Turkey and Greece have been at odds over issues ranging from overflights and the status of Aegean islands, maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean, and ethnically split Cyprus.
Erdogan has said Mitsotakis “no longer exists for him” after the Greek premier lobbied for the United States not to sell Turkey F-16 fighter jets during a speech at the U.S. Congress and the NATO members traded accusations over airspace violations and the islands.
“Let him pull himself together. As long as he doesn’t pull himself together, it is not possible for us to meet,” Erdogan told reporters on a return flight from a NATO summit in Madrid.
Speaking to reporters in Madrid on Thursday, Mitsotakis said EU member Greece was open to dialogue with Turkey, and repeated he would not engage in a “dialogue of personal confrontations” with Erdogan.
“I’ll keep insisting that Greece’s door to a dialogue within the framework we have identified, this door is always open. And at the same time, our country will continue, whenever it has the opportunity, to raise the issues of Turkish aggression within the European Union, bilaterally to our partners,” he said.
Mitsotakis added Greece was “forming its own alliances” and that it wanted support from allies on national issues, but also sought Turkey as an interlocutor.
Erdogan has been angered by Mitsotakis over what he says is the Greek leader’s reversal from a promise to discuss bilateral matters together, without involving other parties. He has also cancelled a high-level dialogue meeting between the neighbours in response to the tensions.
Mitsotakis also said on Thursday Greece had sent an official request to the United States for the purchase of 20 F-35 fighter jets and was examining the purchase of a second batch, as Athens beefs up military procurements amid the tensions with Ankara.