Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Greek MPs engaged in an intense confrontation in Istanbul on Tuesday during the joint meeting of the Political Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) and the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group.
The acrimonious exchanges erupted when MPs Spilios Livanos, Manousos Voloudakis, Theodora Tzakri and Andrea Loverdos reacted after Akar reiterated Turkey’s demand for Greece to demilitarize its islands, questioning their sovereignty as well as airspace and sea zones.
Livanos asked him, “How is it possible for Turkey on the one hand to invoke the NATO Alliance and on the other to threaten Greece with a casus belli?” He also stressed that Turkey speaks about sovereignty of states, “while it is the one that has invaded Cyprus.”
Akar, visibly annoyed, responded saying that “if you say occupation for ‘northern Cyprus,’ it means that you want to quarrel from the beginning.”
“Turkey is not an occupier in the north of Cyprus. Massacres and coups took place there until 1974,” he said.
Addressing Akar, Voloudakis stated that “not a day goes by without a threat of war from Turkey. We have overflights of Turkish fighters over inhabited Greek islands. Recently, you are also asking for the demilitarization of islands in the eastern Aegean.”
Akar also referred to the issue of overflights, and stressed that “Greek aircraft arrived on our mainland on April 27 and violated our airspace. You come from so many kilometers away, from mainland Greece to mainland Turkey, violating our airspace. What do you expect us to do? There are radar images; we have shared them with the allied countries. On April 28, we responded to these actions,” Akar said, while claiming Greece was helping terrorists, eliciting a strong response from the Greek lawmakers.
“Do not say no. Everyone knows about the ‘Lavrio camp’ in Greece,” he said.
Akar did not accept any interventions from Loverdos and Tzakri.