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Turkish DM annoyed with responses by Greek MPs during NATO parliamentary assembly in Istanbul

Featured Turkish DM annoyed with responses by Greek MPs during NATO parliamentary assembly in Istanbul

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was the protagonist in a rare unscripted Q&A session on Tuesday, following his address at a NATO parliamentary assembly in Istanbul, where he verbally spared with a group of Greek Parliament deputies.

The Greek parliamentary delegation included former deputy former minister Andreas Loverdos.

In his first reaction, the head of the Greek delegation, MP Spilios Livanos, reiterated that Greece, as part of the Western world, respects the tenants of the rule of law, combats terrorism and desires dialogue.

In reply to Akar’s repeated assertions that Greece is illegally deploying military to eastern Aegean islands, as well as in reference to Turkey’s maritime claims, Greek MPs pointed directly to a standing threat of war (casus belli) approved by the neighboring country’s grand assembly in the 1990s – something that successive Turkish governments have left unchanged or even rehashed during bouts of nationalist  rhetoric and saber-rattling.

Livanos directly asked Akar how it was possible that Turkey promotes the NATO alliance, on the one hand, and then maintains its casus belli threat. Additionally, he said neighboring Turkey constantly talks about “sovereignty”, yet continues to deploy occupation forces on one-third of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Greek legislators also took umbrage to the Turkish defense minister’s comments by citing continued and even stepped up overflights of Greek isles by Turkish warplanes, something that Akar admitted to but defended, claiming that it was Greek warplanes that first flew over certain sites on the Asia Minor mainland.

When Akar claimed that Greece was harboring “terrorists”, a reference to the alleged presence of PKK cells in the country, the Greek MPs also categorically denied the assertion, and also called the sum of recent Turkish claims against Greece as “revisionists”.

On his part, before going curtly off the stage of the press briefing, Akar said: “The problems between the two countries cannot be solved without talks, meetings, visits and dialogue. We want dialogue,” while adding that “some Greek politicians unfortunately escalate tensions for the sake of their own ambitions.”