Greece and Turkey in War of Words over accusations of Greek army ‘war crimes’



Greece’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement rebuking Turkey for accusing the Greek army of war crimes during the Greco-Turkish war (1919–1922) and its revisionist approach to history.

"One chooses insult when they cannot accept their History. When they have no arguments and would instead provoke and threaten. When they stubbornly refuse to respect the rules that apply for everyone and arbitrarily demand special treatment.

Turkey’s constant efforts to distort historical facts are regretful and sadly expose it. As does its use of inappropriate expressions. We will not follow suit.

We urge Turkey to refrain from further provocations and work towards dialogue and respect for international law," concluded the statement by the Greek Foreign Ministry.

The rebuke follows a response from the Turkish Foreign Ministry who condemned a speech given by Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the International Conference on the Crime of Genocide on Friday, in Athens.

Mitsotakis referred to the Pontian Genocide as a tragic chapter in the history of modern Greeks, and the lessons it holds must prevent its repetition anywhere in the world.

Commenting on the times, the Greek PM called out Turkey for its aggressiveness "while trying to gain the role of an uncommon 'regional leader' in the wider area" and violating international laws, and he referred to developments in the eastern Mediterranean, including the recent Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding (MoU).

"It's not the first time Greece faces storms," Mitsotakis said, "but it has always had the resilience to overcome them, returning to calmer waters. It has always kept its strategy on a straight line, but has not hesitated to plan its tactics with flexibility. It has always taken care, however - and I would like to stress this - to choose the right allies."

Mitsotakis went on to talk about his meeting with the Turkish President two days ago on the sidelines of NATO in London, and reiterated that he had raised issues "sincerely, yet without yielding." He also underlined that the United States, Russia, Europe, Egypt and Israel have all condemned the MoU signed with Libya, and said he had no illusions about the path of relations with Greece's neighbor, which would be difficult.

"Unity and, above all, cool-headedness are necessary, this is why next week (parliamentary parties) will be fully briefed behind closed doors at the High Council of Foreign Policy meeting in Parliament," he added.

In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it “rejects the statements of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivered at the 'International Conference on the Crime of Genocide' held in Athens on 6 December 2019. His statements concerning our past and present are devoid of any base and its hostile tone is laden with lies and slander.

Should the Greek leadership, which seems unable to overcome the then Greek occupying forces being driven into the Aegean during the Turkish War of Independence, wish to face its past, the starting point ought to be the report of the Inter-Allied Commission of Inquiry which recorded the war crimes of the Greek Army during its invasion of Anatolia, as well as the articles of the Lausanne Peace Treaty which sentenced Greece to pay compensation for massacres and atrocities committed against the Turks.

We invite the Greek leadership to follow in the steps of the Greek Prime Minister Venizelos who nominated our great leader, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who fought against the invading Greek army, for the Nobel Peace Prize, by setting aside fanciful ideologies and embrace the principles of friendship and good neighbourliness,” concluded the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.