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Turkey's Erdogan says Greek PM Mitsotakis 'no longer exists' for him

05/23/2022 | 03:47pm EDT
FILE PHOTO: Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan holds a news conference during the NATO summit at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis "no longer exists" for him, accusing the Greek leader of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.

"We had agreed to not include third countries in our dispute with him. Despite this, last week, he had a visit to the U.S. and talked at the Congress and warned them not to give F-16s to us," Erdogan said at a news conference following the weekly cabinet meeting.

"He no longer exists for me. I will never agree to meet with him. We will continue our way with honourable politicians."

Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have been at odds over a host of issues such as maritime boundaries, the extent of their continental shelves, airspace, and ethnically split Cyprus.

During his visit to the United States where he met U.S. President Joe Biden and senior U.S. officials last week, Mitsotakis said that Greece will start procedures for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the United States by 2030.

Following Erdogan's remarks, Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou responded that Mitsotakis defends Greece's rights and international law and that Greece's foreign policy is also based on its alliances.

"We won't get into a counter argument with Turkey's leadership. Our policy is a policy of principles," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell)


© Reuters 2022
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