1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Baerbock's Aegean islands remarks anger Turkey

July 29, 2022

Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over the eastern Aegean islands. During a visit to Athens, Germany's foreign minister said the "islands are Greek territory," drawing a strong rebuke from Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock meet in Istanbul, Turkey, July 29, 2022
After talks in Athens, German Foreign Minister Baerbock met her Turkish counterpart in IstanbulImage: Umit Bektas/REUTERS

German and Turkish FMs spar in Istanbul

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday criticized his German counterpart for siding with Greece in the territorial dispute over several islands in the eastern Aegean.

Speaking at a news conference alongside German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Cavusoglu said Germany had lost impartiality in its role as mediator in the dispute.

Berlin urged not to take sides

"We want Germany to maintain its balanced stance in the issue of the east Mediterranean and the Aegean," he said, adding that Berlin "should not be a tool for provocation and propaganda, especially by Greece and Greek Cypriot side."

Cavusoglu said Berlin needs to listen to both sides without prejudice.

Earlier Friday, Baerbock told reporters in Athens that "Lesbos, Chios, Rhodes and many, many others ... are Greek territory, and no one has the right to query this."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock alongside her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias
Foreign Minister Baerbock met her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in AthensImage: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP

In comments alongside her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, Baerbock added that the German government would stand up for the EU family.

The German minister vowed to reiterate the message during her talks in Turkey later in the day. Upon arrival in Istanbul, she called for dialogue and respect for each other's sovereignty.

Athens urged Germany to halt the delivery of military equipment to Turkey while tensions remain elevated.

Turkey has a joint venture with Germany's Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems to build six 214-class submarines.

Turkish officials say the sovereignty of eastern Greek islands can be disputed if the country maintains a military presence there in violation of its treaty commitments.

Athens contests that stance, accusing Ankara of conducting frequent military overflights of its islands in the eastern Aegean Sea.

Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads for decades over sea boundaries, related drilling rights and Cyprus: Since 1974, the island has been divided, de facto, into the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus on the southern two-thirds and the Turkish-controlled part in the north.

Baerbock: Lavrov's 'new propaganda'

Ukraine military swap deal is close

Meanwhile, Baerbock said she was hopeful of a speedy deal with Athens on a weapons swap for Ukraine that would allow Greece's Soviet-era combat vehicles to be transferred to Kyiv to help fight off Russia's invasion.

According to Greek Defence Ministry sources, around 100 BMP-1 IFVs are involved. Germany is to supply Marder IFVs to replace them.

Friday's trip marks Baerbock's first official visit to the NATO partners, which is taking place against the backdrop of Russia's "brutal war of aggression in Ukraine," the German Foreign Ministry said on its website.

mm, jsi/msh (AP, dpa)

Skip next section Explore more