Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country has canceled the joint strategic council meeting with Greece, directing severe criticism of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accusing him of trying to block the F-16 deal between the United States and Turkey.
“We had agreed not to involve third countries in our conflict. Despite this, (Mitsotakis) visited the United States last week and spoke in Congress and warned them not to give us F-16s,” Erdogan said – in a speech after a cabinet meeting on Monday.
“We were going to hold a joint strategic council meeting (with Greece) this year,” he added. He added, “There is no one named Mitsotakis for me anymore, and I do not accept a meeting like this with him at all, because we continue our way with honorable people who keep their vows.”
The Turkish president believed that the United States would not care what Mitsotakis said when making a decision regarding the sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey.
Erdogan’s comments came while talking about Ankara’s position on Finland and Sweden’s request to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an issue that requires the approval of all NATO member states, including Turkey.
Turkey has expressed its rejection of the two countries joining NATO, accusing them of supporting and hosting groups that Ankara classifies as terrorist organizations.
Erdogan stressed that his country’s position on NATO expansion stems from its principled stance on the issue of combating terrorism, not from hostility or fanaticism, as he put it.
He pointed out that Turkey supported France and Greece in the past after their exit from NATO, asking, “What happened? What is the shape of Greece’s relationship with us today? Isn’t Greece now a corridor for the elements of the Gülen organization towards Europe? And above all, there are currently about 10 military bases in Greece, so who is threatening Do you see through these rules?”.
Greek government spokesman Ioannis Oikonomo responded to Erdogan’s comments, saying that Mitsotakis defends Greece’s rights and international law, and that Greece’s foreign policy is also based on its alliances.
“We will not enter into an argument with the Turkish leadership. Our policy is one of principles,” he added in a statement.
Turkey and Greece – both members of NATO – differ on a range of issues, including maritime borders, airspace and the situation on the island of Cyprus.
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis said – during his visit to the United States, where he met President Joe Biden and senior officials last week – that Athens will start procedures for purchasing F-35 fighter jets from the United States by 2030.