“We warned the Kurds that the Americans would abandon them. And here in Rhodes, I can personally warn the Greeks to think about whether a similar fate awaits them,” said Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU.
Speaking at the International Forum of Dialogues of Culture in the Greek island of Rhodes, Chizhov criticised the extended defence agreement signed between the US and Greece during a visit in the region of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo earlier this month.
During that visit, Pompeo also slammed Turkey for its drilling for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean, calling the country’s actions “illegal” and “unacceptable”.
“I think it was a mistake, but this is my personal opinion. Of course, you should ask the Greeks about the reasons why such a decision was made. But I do not rule out that they did so amid tensions between the United States and Turkey. However, this does not mean that this decision is well weighed from a perspective point of view,” he told TASS news agency, according to Greek media reports.
Regarding the Syrian crisis, he backed the idea of dialogue saying Moscow stands ready to mediate between Ankara and the Kurds and between the Kurds and Damascus. He also said the EU had not included the government in Damascus as partners in these negotiations.
Chizhov is knowledgeable of the region: he has served as a diplomat and as Ambassador to Cyprus, and as a Russian Special representative in the Balkans.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria has asked neighbouring Turkey to halt its military offensive in northeast Syria, saying the violence could lead to rising numbers of migrants crossing the border. The Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov reiterated his support for the deal that the EU struck with Turkey on refugees in 2016. “I want the deal with Turkey to be respected […] If 50,000 or 100,000 or 200,000 migrants enter Bulgaria, I do not know what will happen with the country,” Borissov said.
The UK and Spain joined other major powers on Tuesday (15 October) in suspending military exports to Turkey following its incursion into northeastern Syria. But it seems that the EU is not fully united.
Quoting Hungarian media, EURACTIV’s senior editor Georgi Gotev wrote yesterday that Turkish President Erdoğan thanked Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán for his support at the international stage. The two leaders met in Baku on Tuesday (15 October), on the fringes of a summit of the Turkic Council, a group of countries speaking the same family of languages, which Hungary wants to join.
“Recently Hungary has been instrumental in “removing the teeth” of an EU statement criticising the Turkish incursion in Syria, in which the word ‘Kurds’ does not appear. The main goal of the Turkish operation is to cleanse the territory along its border with Syria of Kurds and re-settle 2 million of the Syrian refugees currently on Turkish soil.”
While Europe is struggling to deal with its “spoiled child”, Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry called on Brussels during a visit in Croatia to do more against Turkey.
In light of Ankara’s actions in the region, especially regarding drilling off-Cyprus, Cairo, Athens and Nicosia have significantly come closer in recent years. Earlier this month, they held their seventh trilateral summit, which raised eyebrows in neighbouring Turkey.
“We consider the condemnation by the EU to be just the beginning. The EU should take real steps to prevent Turkey’s further presence in Syria and the continuation of the military operation in the north of Syria”, he said.
“Turkey is not only present in Syria, but it is present also in Iraq, and it does contribute to this area’s destabilisation”, the Egyptian minister said.
His Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman also condemned Turkey and warned about a possible new wave of refugees. “This year, Croatia has been witnessing a 211% increase in illegal migration on its border with Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.
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