Greek PM: Greek-Turkish relations in period of "instability"

In this photo released by Greek Prime Minister's office, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech from the small eastern Aegean island of Kastelorizo, Greece, which he visited to inaugurate a desalination plant, Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Tsipras said that relations between his country and Turkey are experiencing a "period of instability," and stressed that Greece will not negotiate any part of its territory. (Andrea Bonetti /Greek Prime Minister's Office via AP)

ATHENS, Greece - Relations between Greece and Turkey are experiencing a "period of instability," the Greek prime minister said Tuesday, stressing that Greece will not negotiate over any part of its territory.

Speaking from the small eastern Aegean island of Kastelorizo, which he visited to inaugurate a desalination plant, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he had a "message of co-operation" for Greece's eastern neighbour, but also "a message of determination."

Greece and Turkey have seen relations deteriorate in recent weeks over disputed boundaries in the Aegean Sea and disputed oil-and-gas drilling rights off the divided island of Cyprus.

On Monday, Ankara accused Athens of a provocation after a Greek flag was hoisted on an uninhabited islet in the eastern Aegean. Last week, a Greek fighter pilot died when his plane crashed into the central Aegean as he returned from a patrol. Aegean patrolling has intensified in recent weeks amid near-daily interceptions and mock dogfights between Greece and Turkey in disputed airspace.

"Many times we find ourselves, it is true, in troubled times, faced with the unjustifiable behaviour, a provocative stance and an aggressive stance by our neighbours," Tsipras said. "These days we are experiencing one such period of instability, which is not in line with the principles of good neighbourliness or with the rules of international law."

Tsipras said his country sought co-operation, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours.

"Greece threatens nobody, but also fears nobody," he said. "And Greece can defend its sovereign rights from edge to edge of this country."

Although they are NATO allies, relations between Greece and Turkey have often been severely strained through the decades, mainly over territorial disputes in the Aegean and over Cyprus.

The two have come to the brink of war three times since the early 1970s.


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