Türkİye, Europe

Greek media, politicians say NATO chief not backing Athens in its relations with Ankara

Türkiye has legitimate concerns on terrorism, Jens Stoltenberg tells Greek state-run news agency AMNA

Tevfik Durul, Derya Gülnaz Özcan   | 16.06.2022
Greek media, politicians say NATO chief not backing Athens in its relations with Ankara NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

ATHENS

Greek media and politicians accused NATO’s secretary-general Wednesday of not being “unbiased” towards Turkish-Greek relations. 

Jens Stoltenberg referred to the ongoing tensions between the two neighboring NATO allies as a “dispute” during an interview with Greek state-run news agency AMNA, causing an uproar in Greece.

He told AMNA that NATO encourages Greece and Türkiye to resolve their disputes in accordance with the mutual trust and solidarity within the alliance.

NATO is a military alliance that includes numerous countries with different histories in a vast geography, and hence the presence of disagreements between some member states should not come as a surprise, Stoltenberg emphasized.

He also underscored that Ankara’s concerns over terrorism are legitimate and should be taken into serious account by its NATO allies.

Consequently, his remarks led to harsh criticism by Greek media outlets that often label Türkiye as “aggressive.”

Of these, the pro-government daily Kathimerini called Stoltenberg’s comments “unfortunate” as he did not affirm so-called Turkish hostility.

The Avgi daily newspaper, which is close to the main opposition party SYRIZA-PS, underscored that the secretary-general treats Ankara and Athens equally and refused to condemn Turkish policies.

Moreover, In.gr, one of the country’s most-read news outlets, claimed that Stoltenberg is refraining from taking responsibility.

This is happening while Greece’s sovereignty is being questioned by Türkiye, which constantly creates problems within the alliance, it added.

In addition, Nikos Andrulakis, the leader of the PASOK-KINAL party, said Stoltenberg “cannot act both as (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s ambassador and NATO secretary-general.

SYRIZA-PS put the blame on the conservative Mitsotakis government’s policy choices and remarked that “NATO allies are in a rush to satisfy all demands by Erdogan.”

The Greek Communist Party (KKE), known for its sharp and consistent anti-NATO stance, said NATO’s neutral position on Turkish-Greek relations serves to legitimize Ankara’s claims.

Stoltenberg has assumed an active role since May 18, when Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO, prompting Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, to voice objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups such as the PKK/YPG as well as weapons embargos against Türkiye.

He repeatedly underscored that Türkiye’s security concerns about the NATO membership bids of Sweden and Finland are legitimate and should be addressed by its allies.

More recently, on June 12, during his meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Stoltenberg said: "We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye,” referring to attacks by the PKK, the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) – the group behind a 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye – and Daesh/ISIS among other terrorist groups.

*Written and contributed to by Ahmet Gencturk in Ankara

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