Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos rejected on Thursday claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he sent a message to Greece through Defence Minister Hulusi Akar not to make any “move” over the eastern Aegean islets of Imia, for which the two countries were brought to the brink of war twenty-four years ago.
Imia, or Kardak, as it is known in Turkish, is disputed territory, according to Ankara.
“That day, throughout Friday, we were busy with the issue of the [Turkish] research vessel [Oruc Reis] and monitoring it," Panagiotopoulos told television station Alpha on Thursday.
“Besides, these discussions would not be made by me. If they did, they would be held at a very high level, but they never were,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Greek minister spoke on the phone with Akar on the forthcoming NATO Defence Ministers Meeting in Brussels on February 12-13, as well as the resumption of dialogue on Confidence Building Measures, with talks to be held in Athens on February 17 -21.
Erdogan told journalists on Wednesday said that this year there was no crisis around Imia because “we kept a specific stance.”
“We said that if [Greece makes] any move, of the sort it has made in the past, then we will respond differently; and you will see that if Greece makes no move around Imia, then there will be no move on our side either,” he said adding: “My defense minister would most probably call the Greek defense minister to thank him and to continue this process in Imia and the other islands,.”