German Minister: Turkey and Greek Tensions ‘Playing with Fire’

TAL COHEN/AFP/Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned that heated tensions between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean could prove to be a “disaster.”

The German minister stated that the current tensions, which have been provoked by Turkish seismic resource research in a part of Eastern Mediterranean Greece has claimed is part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is not in the interests of either country.

“Any spark, however small, could lead to disaster,” Maas said Tuesday during a visit in Athens with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, newspaper Kathimerini reports.

Dendias, meanwhile, responded that Greece, “will defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights, without arrogance, threats and bombast.”

Greece and Turkey have been at odds since last month when the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis set sail for an area in the Mediterranean to conduct research. Greece countered the move by putting its armed forces on alert, while Turkey sent out several warships to escort the Oruc Reis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even claimed the Greek navy “attacked” the research vessel, but the supposed attack was played down by Greek media who said there had been a minor collision between a Greek naval vessel and a Turkish vessel.

In recent weeks, France has also not only expressed concern over Turkish actions but French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to increase the French naval presence in the region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded to Macron’s move by warning him not to escalate the situation even further.

So far the Turkish government has refused to back down on the issue and this week released a propaganda video that compares President Erdogan to Sultan Mehmet II of the Ottoman empire, with Greek newspaper Proto Thema claiming it displayed Erdogan’s  “neo-Ottoman desires.”

The Hagia Sophia, which Erdogan recently converted into a mosque, is also shown prominently in the video along with depictions of the Turkish military from several eras, including the First World War.

The video ends with footage of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. After converting the Hagia Sophia, Erdogan released a statement in Arabic saying the “liberation” was the first step to “liberate” Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.