| 12 April 2024, Friday |

Greek PM tells Turkish people ‘we are not enemies’

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis criticized Turkey’s leadership of harming peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean area during the conflict, but assured Turkish citizens that Greece poses no threat to their nation.

The two nations, NATO partners but ancient adversaries, have been at war for decades over a variety of problems including where their continental shelf begin and stop, energy resources, overflights in the Aegean Sea, the status of demilitarized islands, and divided Cyprus.

“Turkey’s leadership seems to have a strange fixation with my country. … They threaten that Turkey will come at night, if it so decides. This is the language of an aggressor,” Mitsotakis said, during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

“From the UN I would like to address … the Turkish people directly: Greece poses no threat to your country. We are not your enemies, we are neighbors,” he said. “Let us move forward.”

Long-existing tensions between the two countries have flared up recently. Greece complained to NATO and the United Nations this month over what it called “inflammatory” statements by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan accused Greece this week of “crimes against humanity”, referring to its treatment of migrants, and earlier this month of occupying islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarized status.

Greece says Turkey is challenging the Greek sovereignty of the islands and is exploiting the migration issue.

“Greece will not be bullied by anyone,” Mitsotakis said on Friday, adding that Ukraine is not the only country in postwar Europe to have been attacked and that Cypriots have lived since 1974 on a split island as result of an illegal Turkish invasion.

During his address, Mitsotakis also mentioned Greece’s long-standing desire for the permanent repatriation of the Parthenon marbles from the British Museum in London.

The statues were stolen from the Parthenon temple in Athens, a 5th-century BC architectural marvel, by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, while the nation was under Ottoman administration.

“No matter how long it will take, the Parthenon marbles will eventually be coming home,” the conservative premier said.

  • Reuters