Greek media and politicians are uncomfortable with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s equidistant rhetoric on Turkey-Greece relations.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave an interview to the Greek State Agency AMNA.
“NATO is a 30-year-old alliance that includes different geographies, histories and political parties. It should not surprise us that there are some disagreements between our countries. But different opinions and debates are essential parts of our democracies. Turkey has been a sincere ally for decades, as has Greece.”
Stoltenberg said NATO encourages Greece and Turkey to resolve the issues in the Aegean in a spirit of trust and allied solidarity, and also spoke about Turkey’s concerns about the terrorist organization PKK.
“Turkey has suffered a lot from the PKK and is the country in the alliance that has suffered the most from terrorism. Turkey has reasonable concerns that all allies should take seriously.”
Greek press criticizes Stoltenberg
The Greek press, which often uses the term “aggressor” for Turkey, criticized Stoltenberg’s description of the tension between the two countries as a “disagreement”.
“NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with AMNA, chose to interpret Turkey’s aggression with a series of unfortunate formulas, essentially refusing to acknowledge it and insisting on talking about ‘disagreement’,” Kathimerini newspaper wrote in its article titled “Stoltenberg’s blunder in Greek-Turkish relations”.
“He refrained from condemning Turkey”
The Avgi daily also stated that Stoltenberg applied an equal distance policy towards Turkey and Greece and “refrained from condemning Turkey’s aggression”.
Some media outlets preferred to emphasize Stoltenberg’s remarks about Greece being a strong and valued NATO ally, while some news portals commented “What is hidden behind Stoltenberg’s strange statements?”.
“in.gr”, one of the most followed news portals in Greece, argued that Stoltenberg is constantly avoiding taking responsibility with his statements.
“NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has chosen to play a modern ‘Pontius Pilate’, since since his election in 2014 he has stood at an equal distance to Greece and Turkey, even when Ankara has blatantly violated international law, questioned Greece’s sovereign rights and created problems within the alliance.”
“Erdoğan’s Ambassador” comment
Greek politics also reacted to Stoltenberg’s remarks.
Nikos Andrulakis, leader of the Movement for Change Party (KINAL), argued that Stoltenberg “cannot serve both as (President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan’s ambassador and as NATO Secretary General.”
The main opposition SYRIZA party emphasized that Stoltenberg has adopted a policy of equal distance between Turkey and Greece.
“At a time when our allies Turkey and Erdogan are rushing to fulfill all their wishes, it is clear that Mitsotakis’ policy of willing and firm allies is driving Greece to the margins.”
“Stoltenberg has fed the Turkish state’s claims”
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also argued that NATO does not recognize the borders in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.
“After ‘praising’ Greece for its leading role in NATO’s aggressive plans, the NATO Secretary General used the famous ‘equal distance’ tactic, inviting Greece and Turkey to ‘solve their problems’ for the good of the NATO alliance. In this way, he fed the Turkish state’s claims.”