Greek and Turkish officials clash at press conference

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticises remarks by Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias gestures as he talks during a joint media statement with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, following their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Dendias visited Ankara Thursday for talks on the two NATO allies' fraught relationship, following a slight easing of tensions between the neighbors. The visit is the first between the two nations following a tumultuous year. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
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The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey clashed over a wide variety of issues during a volatile press conference at the end of their first meeting in more than a year.

The meeting in Ankara between Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias came after signs tensions between the countries were cooling. They also held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two countries teetered on the edge of conflict when their warships collided while shadowing each other during a Turkish operation into disputed Eastern Mediterranean waters last August.

After their talks, Mr Cavusoglu said the countries held a "very positive dialogue".

But Mr Dendias used his opening remarks to list a series of long-standing complaints about Turkey, from its search for natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean to its treatment of the Greek Orthodox minority and an ongoing dispute about migrants.

"Greece's position is clear and this is not the first time you have heard it," Mr Dendias told Mr Cavusoglu.

Mr Cavusoglu said the remarks from Mr Dendias were unacceptable.

“Turkey is obliged to protect its own rights, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, and those of Cypriot Turks; all the steps we take are aimed at protecting our rights,” Mr Cavusoglu said.

He said it was not possible for him to accept the accusation Turkey violated Greece's sovereignty.

"If you heavily accuse my country and people before the press, I have to be in a position to respond to that," Mr Cavusoglu said.

"If you want to continue our tensions, we can. If we go into mutual recriminations here, we have a lot to tell each other."

But Mr Dendias also invited Mr Cavusoglu for talks in Greece and said "there is significant scope for an improvement in bilateral ties".

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