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Ankara blasts 'Napoleon' Macron for interfering in row with Athens

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar speaks during an interview with the UK-based Channel 4 News.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has blasted French President Emmanuel Macron over siding with Greece in Ankara’s row with Athens, accusing him of further exacerbating and fueling the dispute by trying to act like Napoleon.

“Mr. Macron is not contributing to a solution her,” Akar said on Friday during an interview with British Channel 4 News. "He is trying to take on the role of Napoleon, who died 200 years ago. But we can all see that he is neither powerful enough nor tall enough to do it.”

"We are not pursuing any kind of imperialistic aims. Here we are protecting our rights and the law," Akar further emphasized as quoted by the UK-based Express daily. "He is pouring fuel onto the problems and this is why the issue is being prolonged. Mr Macron himself is dreaming.”

The latest tensions between Turkey and Greece stem from Ankara’s refusal to halt its energy exploration activities in a disputed portion of Eastern Mediterranean waters.

Asked whether his country will keep up with its energy research, Akar underlined, "Of course we will continue to do it. This is the right and law of out 83 million people and of the nation. This is not a threat against anyone."

Meanwhile, Turkey’s former secretary-general of national defense ministry, Umit Yalim, insisted on Wednesday that Athens had no sovereignty over a group of Aegean islands and should evacuate their citizens living there immediately.

Speaking to Turkish website Haber 7, Yalım said, "The legal status of the islands located in the north of the Aegean Sea was determined by the Six Great States Decision of 1914 and the Lausanne Treaty of 1923.”

"Greece was given only the right to use of the islands of the North Aegean and not the right of sovereignty,” he stressed. "The areas of sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction as well as the airspace of the islands of Thassos, Samothrace, Lemnos, Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Ikaria, Psara and Agios Efstratios remained in Turkey."

Moreover, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Macron last week “not to mess” with Turkey as tensions between the two NATO allies surged, with Paris announcing that it would fully support Greece in the dispute and even threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey.

“Don't mess with the Turkish people. Don't mess with Turkey,” said the Turkish leader during a televised speech on September 12.

Macron has further called on Europe to show a united stand against the “unacceptable” conduct of Turkey, saying Europe needed “to be clear and firm with the government of President Erdogan.”

The French president has also infuriated Ankara by asserting that Turkey’s “great” people “deserved something else” other than Erdogan’s presidency.

The development came as Germany, which currently presides over the European Council until January 2021, further suggested action at the European level to force Turkey to stand down.

Germany's ambassador to Athens, Ernst Reichel, told the Standing European Affairs Committee of the Greek Parliament that Ankara could soon see the "stick" of the Council.

"Germany, during its European Union presidency, maybe at the next European Council, will talk to Turkey with the threat of sanctions and the general deterioration of its relationship with the EU," Reichel said.

He further proclaimed, "We are dealing with a difficult neighbor and this is a problem we have not only with Turkey but also with Russia, which is also a difficult neighbor.”

Invoking Berlin’s harsh stance against Ankara, he added, "We must persuade Turkey and the question is how to persuade it. I believe the right answer is with a stick and carrot approach. I want to say that the European Council will show Turkey the stick very soon."

Erdogan says willing to meet with Greek PM over east Med tensions

The insulting remarks by the German envoy came as President Erdogan reiterated on Friday that Ankara was prepared to meet with Greece to resolve its standoff over energy exploration in contested Mediterranean waters.

"We can meet if there is goodwill. We can talk via videoconference or meet in a third country," he underlined, noting that Turkey would not be the party fleeing the table.

Erdogan further signaled that Oruc Reis, a seismic research vessel, would return to its work, though he also pointed out that its withdrawal was deliberate.

"If we pulled Oruc Reis back to the port for maintenance, it has a meaning," he said. "It means 'let's give a chance to diplomacy, let's show a positive approach'."

Turkey's Yavuz drillship, meanwhile, will continue its search for oil and gas off Cyprus until October 12.

Turkey summons Greek envoy over expletive headline against Erdoğan

Meanwhile, Ankara summoned the Greek ambassador to the country on Friday over an appalling headline in the Greek daily Demokratia about President Erdogan, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu declared during a press briefing, adding that insulting and cursing should not be in the realm of freedom of the press.

The top diplomat also emphasized that there is no point in embarking on fresh initiatives in Cyprus which are doomed to fail, reiterating, "We have said over and over again that we will no longer negotiate for a federation on the Cyprus issue."

"(Greek Cypriot leader) Anastasiades once even told me that they 'don't even want to share their hospitals with Turks.' The Greek side's attitude does not allow for a federation," he added. "They first accepted rotating presidency but later rejected it."

At the center of the row between Ankara and Athens was Turkey's deployment last month of the Oruc Reis, and an accompanying fleet of warships in disputed waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

Turkish officials ended the month-long mission and ordered the vessel back to shore last weekend for maintenance work.

More recently, Greece has disputed Turkey's current energy exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean, has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, arguing that Ankara and the TRNC have rights in the region.

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