Mitsotakis calls out Turkey's "fence sitting" over Ukraine war, says Greece won't send Leopard 2 tanks

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has accused Turkey of "sitting on the fence" over the Ukraine war, saying that the neighbouring country needs to step up as a NATO member with the conflict soon entering its second year.

In an exclusive interview to Nikkei in Tokyo on Tuesday, Mitsotakis hit out at Ankara for not imposing sanctions on Moscow and refusing to ratify Sweden's and Finland's accession to the military alliance.

"The Turkish position within NATO has frustrated lots of lots of NATO members, and this has nothing to do with the peculiarities of the Greek-Turkish bilateral agenda," Mitsotakis told Nikkei Asia. "It is greatly profiting from the fact that it has a special economic relationship [with Russia]. If you belong to an alliance, which is also an alliance of values, you cannot sit on the fence."

"I'm not worried about a possible conflict" with Turkey, Mitsotakis said when asked about growing tensions between the two countries. "But I am concerned that Turkish foreign policy over the past few years has become more revisionist and more aggressive, which I think is inappropriate at a time when we're dealing with a blatant violation of international law in Ukraine."

"A lot of what you see has to do with pre-election rhetoric on the side of Turkey, but I am concerned that all this constant warmongering is poisoning Turkish public opinion."

NATO allies have been debating in recent weeks whether to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help Kyiv push Russian troops back from its territory. After much dithering, Germany followed countries such as Poland in agreeing to dispatch the tanks to Ukraine, wrote Nikkei.

But Mitsotakis said that Greece would not be following suit.

"We have provided significant military support to Ukraine, [such as] armored personnel carriers, but we will not provide Leopard 2 tanks for the simple reason that they are absolutely necessary for our defense posture," he said. "We've also always made it very clear that we are willing to support Ukraine but not at the expense of our defense capabilities."

His denial comes after the Ukrainian media said that the Mitsotakis government will send Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine.

Kyiv Post has first reported that Greece was among the countries from which the delivery of Leopard tanks is expected.

It said that the “Leopards”, which in the future will be used to repel Russia, will be not only from Germany, but also from other countries. According to the publication, the countries are Poland, Sweden, Spain, Greece, Finland, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands.

READ MORE: Cihat Yaycı: "If Turkey leaves NATO, Cyprus and Israel will join."