Turkey's foreign minister lashes out at his Greek counterpart during a joint press conference, telling Greece "If you want to continue our tensions, we can."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (L) hold a joint press conference in Ankara, Turkey on April 15, 2021.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (L) hold a joint press conference in Ankara, Turkey on April 15, 2021. (AA)

The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey traded barbs on a wide range of issues during an unexpectedly volatile press conference at the end of their first meeting in over a year.

The meeting on Wednesday between Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias was ostensibly designed to show the two uneasy NATO neighbours trying to put aside their differences after a year of complex disputes.

The press conference opened with conciliatory remarks from Cavusoglu in which he praised "the very positive dialogue" they just held in the Turkish capital.

He said that disputes with Greece can be resolved through constructive dialogue and that fait accompli and provocative rhetoric should be avoided in bilateral relations.

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Sour then sweet

But Dendias used his opening remarks to rattle off a series of accusations about Turkey from the eastern Mediterranean to the migrants issue.

"Greece's position is clear and this is not the first time you have heard it," Dendias told Cavusoglu during a particularly heated moment in the 35-minute press conference.

"If you heavily accuse my country and people before the press, I have to be in a position to respond to that," Cavusoglu replied.

"If you want to continue our tensions, we can," Cavusoglu said.

"You don't allow the Turkish minority (in Greece) to call themselves Turkish. You call them Muslims," Cavusoglu said.

"If they call themselves Turkish, they are Turkish – you have to recognise this."

He noted that Ankara is capable of protecting the rights of both Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean.

Dendias said his country and Turkey can create a positive agenda in the field of economy.

Dendias did offer Cavusoglu an invitation to visit him in Athens and the two ministers walked away from their respective lecterns after exchanging a few pleasantries and smiles.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies