ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey expects Greece to respect its rights and interests and to avoid unilateral actions and attempts at fait accompli as he said Ankara wants the Aegean region to be a hub of friendly relations. The president was speaking at a symposium organized jointly by the Dokuz Eylül and Başkent universities to mark the anniversary of the Great Offensive against occupying Greek forces in 1922.
Noting that Ankara expects Athens to respect Turkey’s rights, Erdoğan said he believes the two countries can find solutions based on justice, cooperation and neighborly relations.
“Rather than passing down a bunch of problems to our children, we would like to ensure that we give them a more stable, peaceful and secure future,” the president said. Touching upon the importance of the Aegean Sea, Erdoğan said the area has made headlines for humanitarian crises rather than being a symbol of cooperation and peace. He was referring to the migrant crisis, as thousands of irregular migrants attempt to cross the Aegean Sea to reach Europe.
“Turkey has been left alone in its extraordinary struggle to prevent irregular migration from Syria,” Erdoğan said, adding that Greece has expedited its maximalist policies in the area rather than contributing to Turkey’s efforts. He continued by criticizing Athens for wasting the “historical” opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations by cooperating with Ankara in the face of the migrant crisis. Erdoğan also noted that Turkey wants the Aegean to be an area of friendship and has always acted calmly in the face of Greek provocations, including the violation of the demilitarized status of the Aegean islands and issuing Navtex.
“We will find solutions based on fairness, justice and cooperation with Greece, observing neighborhood ties,” he added. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also spoke at the same event, saying that Greece “should not forget the heavy price they paid a century ago, and refrain from new adventures that would end in disappointment.”