Greece blasts Turkey’s 'irrational' regional actions

Mediterranean leaders meet top Gulf officials to strengthen relations and co-operation

epa09004250 Reem Ebrahim Al-Hashimi (R), Emirati Minister of State for International Cooperation talks with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (L) during the 'Philia Forum' held in Athens, Greece, 11 February 2021. The Foreign Affairs Ministers of four Mediterranean Arab and Gulf states and two European countries will participate in the first 'Philia Forum' (Friendship Forum), to be held in Athens. Under the title 'Building Friendship, Peace and Prosperity from the Mediterranean to the Gulf', the foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will discuss strengthening collaborations against regional security challenges and will also talk about the coronavirus pandemic. France, Iraq and Jordan have also been invited to participate, the Greek ministry said in a statement.  EPA/Petros Giannakouris / POOL

Greek officials hit out at Turkey's "irrational" actions on Thursday and accused the country of undermining peace in the region.

Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias singled out Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and said Ankara was interfering in the internal domestic affairs of unspecified countries.

He was speaking alongside senior officials from the UAE, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt and Saudi Arabia after they held talks in Athens over strengthening relations and co-operation between the Mediterranean and the Gulf.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian joined by video link.

“Unfortunately, on an everyday basis, peace is threatened by powers who wish to overturn it not based on logic, but irrational arguments and they are involved in a series of irrational actions such as the Turkish-Libyan memorandum and other actions,” Mr Dendias said.

He was referring to the maritime pact signed between Ankara and authorities in Tripoli in 2019, which was condemned by some for infringing on Greece’s borders.

“What unites us all today is this condemnation of illegal, irrational acts which undermine peace and stability and security. Our purpose is to build a buffer against distortion of religion, irrationality and illegal actions,” Mr Dendias said.

"This is a position ... based on our common principles, which are enshrined in the charter of the UN, such as good neighbourhood relationships and resolving disputes based on international law."

Greece and Turkey are in dispute over maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, which led to a military build-up in the region last year.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the initiative between the countries meeting on Thursday – which officials insisted did not seek to exclude any particular state – sought collaboration on interfaith dialogue, energy and the digital economy.

But he also underlined Greece’s backing for a one-state, federal solution to the long-running dispute about the future of Cyprus. This was in contrast to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who on Wednesday reiterated his support for a two-state future Cyprus.

Mr Mitsotakis said there would be regular meetings and contacts between the countries participating in the Athens summit in the future.

“It is natural for Greece to seek out this type of co-operation. Multidimensional challenges in our wider neighbourhood make it necessary,” he said at the start of the talks.

Representing the UAE was Minister of State for International Co-operation Reem Al Hashimy, who said the detrimental effects of Covid-19 were discussed.

"There is a demand for collaboration in a balanced way ... to lay the foundations for stability, peace and generate prosperity for our people," she said.