Greek PM in Cyprus talks on latest war of words with Turkey

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Friday he preferred diplomacy to rhetoric in handling long-running disputes with Turkey over airspace, maritime borders and oil exploration in the Aegean Sea.

Mitsotakis made his comments on a visit to close ally Cyprus, which has had no diplomatic relations with Turkey since the aftermath of its 1974 occupation of the north of the island.

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Mitsotakis said his talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades were intended to coordinate “our action in the face of the recent unrest in the eastern Mediterranean.”

He said the best defenses for Greece and Cyprus “against any revisionist sentiments” were international law, strong regional alliances and the “rules of good diplomatic practice.”

Greece and Turkey have been locked in an escalating war of words over Ankara’s claims that Athens has been deploying troops to islands near their maritime border in numbers that violate post-war peace treaties.

Mitsotakis made no direct mention of Turkey in his comments but issued veiled criticism of an announcement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month that he would no longer hold bilateral meetings with Greek leaders as provided for in a 2010 agreement between the two sides.

“We will soon be able to return to calmer waters, always keeping open channels of communication, which even in the most difficult times... should never be closed,” the Greek premier said.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had urged the two countries, which are both alliance members, to resolve their differences in a “spirit of trust.”

Anastasiades said he expected strong support for Greece and Cyprus from an EU summit in Brussels next week against anyone challenging their sovereignty or territorial integrity.

Unlike Turkey, the two countries are both EU members.

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