by Aggelos Skordas
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg indicated that Greece and Turkey should address their differences on a bilateral level, as the Alliance’s role is not to intervene in disputes between two member states. Addressing a lecture at Leiden University during an official visit to Hague on Friday, Stoltenberg said that “NATO is established to address threats coming from outside […] We will never be able to make a decision which is contradicting the interests of one of our allies”.
Specifically referring to Greece and Turkey the NATO chief declared that “I recognise that this is a challenge but it is not something that NATO can solve. It is something that can be solved in a spirit of cooperation between them”. As he further explained, he has repeatedly spoken to the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as well as the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has been “briefed about the islands, the airspace and the territories in the Aegean Sea”.
Answering press representatives questions Stoltenberg went one step further by saying that if Turkey was not a member of the Alliance, the situation would have been “much more dangerous for Greece”.
During the last few months tensions between Athens and Ankara have been on the rise. On Wednesday the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement questioning Greece’s sovereignty over the Imia islets that brought the two countries on the brink of war 22 years ago. On its behalf the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied that “the borders in the Aegean are not disputable”, in what is seen as the latest episode in a long war of words between the two neighboring countries.