At a joint press conference in Istanbul on Friday, the two engaged in verbal wars over an expected Turkish offensive in northern Syria, the jailing of opposition leader Osman Gavala in Turkey and an island dispute between Greece and Turkey.
Beerbock had previously visited Athens and was clearly on Greece’s side in the dispute over the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos and Lesbos in the eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish government challenges Athens’ sovereignty over these islands and demands the withdrawal of all Greek troops. “The Greek islands are Greek territory, and no one has the right to question that,” Beyerbach reiterated in Istanbul, speaking to his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dentias, in Athens.
Germany still “solution-oriented” under Merkel
Cavusoglu said Germany should be solution-oriented in such disputes, as it was under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). “Ms. Merkel did that. To be honest, Germany was an honest mediator during this period. It was balanced. Germany’s policy was balanced,” Koussoglu said. “I’m sorry to say that, but that’s how it was. We respected that.”
Recently he has seen “this balance sadly being lost”. Third countries such as Germany should not “engage in provocations and propaganda, especially from Greece and the Greek part of Cyprus”.
Debate on Syria
The two also clashed over Syria. Baerbock warned Cavusoglu of a new attack in the neighboring country. Ankara wants to fight there with the Kurdish militia YPG, which the government considers a terrorist organization. It is known that Turkey is threatened by terrorism, and of course everyone has the right to self-defense, Baerbach said.
However, this right “does not include retaliatory or summary preemptive attacks”. The suffering of Syrians will be made worse by a renewed military conflict, and new instability will arise, which terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State (IS) will only take advantage of.
Cavusoglu disagreed with this argument. “First, it is not a military conflict because a military conflict is between countries and armies,” he said. Rather, it is an action against terrorism and the fight against terrorism.
The point of contention is Kavala
Çavuşoğlu responded particularly angrily to Bayerbach’s criticism of the imprisonment of Turkish cultural promoter Osman Kavala. The Green politician insisted that the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) must be respected. “For me, that includes the release of Osman Gavala ordered by the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
Cavusoglu responded angrily, accusing Beerbock of putting Kavala on the agenda but ignoring it when other countries failed to comply with court rulings. He also accused Germany of using Kavala to finance it against Turkey. Kavala was sentenced to life imprisonment in April in connection with the 2013 Gezi protests. The verdict provoked strong international criticism. Kavala has been in jail since 2017.
Greece also criticizes Germany
Beerbock made a conscious decision to coordinate his inaugural visits to Turkey and Greece, two controversial NATO partners. “We need unity, we need dialogue, we need sensible action in these difficult times,” he said in Athens, referring to the war in Ukraine and its aftermath. Controversy within the alliance’s ranks is exactly what Russian President Vladimir Putin wants.
But even in Greece, the visit was not entirely without controversy. Greek Foreign Minister Tendias strongly criticized German arms exports and the sale of submarines to Turkey. “With these submarines, there is a great danger that the balance of power in the Mediterranean will be thrown off balance,” he said.
Arms Supply Agreement
Another unresolved issue between the two countries at the meeting was Greece’s demands for reparations for the destruction caused by the German occupiers in World War II. “The issue of German reparations remains open to the Greek government, but mainly to Greek society,” Dentias said. The problem must be solved, it is a question of policy.
On the other hand, Baerbach noted Germany’s basic rejection of such demands. Berlin considers the issue legally closed and represents a two-plus-four agreement on the foreign policy consequences of German reunification since 1990.
However, there may be progress in planning rings with Greece to supply armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. “I think we’re on the right track here,” Baerbach said. About 100 Greek armored personnel carriers of Soviet design of BMP-1 type to Ukraine. Greece to acquire Marder armored personnel carriers from Germany However, the Greek side did not want to deliver their tanks until replacements arrived from Germany. (SDA)
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