Greece wants to keep open channel to Turkey

Erdogan has halted bilateral talks in a dispute over airspace violations and a perceived slight from Mitsotakis, whom he has accused of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey when the Greek Prime Minister visited Washington in May

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Nicosia - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday he wanted to keep an open channel of communication with Turkey despite sharp rhetoric which has heightened tension between the two neighbours.

The countries, which are partners in NATO, are at odds overa number of issues from maritime and airspace boundaries topotential energy sources in the Mediterranean, andethnically-split Cyprus. Tensions recently resurfaced, with Turkish President TayyipErdogan saying Greece should stop arming islands in the AegeanSea which should have a demilitarised status under internationaltreaties.  Greece dismisses Turkey's assertions as unfounded. Mitsotakis, who was speaking in Cyprus, said internationallaw was on Greece's side. "We will set aside any rhetoric which deviates from the rules of good diplomatic practice," he said during a meetingwith Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia. "I believe that this approach is the correct one and that wewill quickly come back to calmer waters, always keeping openchannels of communication. It is my view and always has beenthat even at the most difficult of times they should neverclose," Mitsotakis said. 

Erdogan has halted bilateral talks in a dispute over airspace violations and a perceived slight from Mitsotakis, whom he has accused of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey when the Greek Prime Minister visited Washington in May. "We said we would not meet with them again as long as thereis not an honest politician in front of me," Erdogan toldreporters in Istanbul after Friday prayers. "There cannot be a clearer, more open response than this. SoGreece can take care of itself from now on."

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