The message, the expectations, the timeline and the consequences of not acting towards a de-escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean were “made clear” to Turkey, both via the informal Foreign Affairs Council last week in Berlin and in the telephone call on Monday between EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano.
“The EU was very clear in its solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and very clear as to what it expects from Turkey so that we can defuse and de-escalate the situation,” Stano told a press briefing in Brussels on Tuesday, noting that there is a great deal of non-public activity that is geared towards that goal.
“We hope our Turkish friends and partners will take this into account and start to act accordingly, so that we don't have to follow the alternative path of restrictive measures,” he added.
But both Greece and Turkey appear to be moving in other directions. Though the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Turkey is open to dialogue with Greece to solve disagreements over Mediterranean rights and resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed no sign of letting up on the incendiary rhetoric on Tuesday, describing Greece as “incompetent” and as “bait” that is being used by other countries.
On its part, it emerged on Tuesday that Greece was in talks with France and other countries over arms purchases to boost its armed forces.
A day earlier, Greece’s finance minister said the country is ready to spend part of its cash reserves on arms purchases and other means which will help increase its “deterrence force,” after years of belt-tightening in defense spending.
“We are in talks with France, and not only with France, in order to increase our country’s defense potential,” a government official told Reuters. “Within this framework, there is a discussion which includes the purchase of aircraft.”
The official added that no final decisions had been made. Greek media reported on Monday that Athens had agreed to acquire 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets from France.