Although the year 2020 is coming to an end, diplomatic disputes, particularly the Eastern Mediterranean crisis, carry on as Turkish and Greek foreign ministers express their "best" wishes to each other for the new year in a "passive-aggressive" exchange.
The exchange was triggered when Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias shared his interview with the local Parapolitika daily Saturday on his Twitter account, claiming that recent European Council decisions against Turkey were not "enough" and that the U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey for "threatening the NATO alliance."
As a response, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu lambasted his Greek counterpart on Sunday, saying: "Dear Niko, here's some friendly advice for the new year – stop asking for help from others and hurting the Greek people's dignity."
"May 2021 be the year when we settle our differences equitably by talking directly, sincerely and earnestly," Çavuşoğlu continued.
Dendias retorted Çavuşoğlu's comments on Monday by saying: "Thank you my dear friend Mevlut. As we exchange wishes and advice, may 2021 be the year of the three 'A's for Turkey to firstly abandon its threats of war against Greece, should we exercise our legitimate rights. After all we live in the 21st century," Dendias said and continued: "Second, aspire to become more European, less Neo-Ottoman. This will best serve the Turkish people. Third, abstain from provocations and illegal activities."
"By the way," Dendias said, "There is one thing Mevlut you forgot to mention yet again: it’s International Law. The only basis for a constructive dialogue about our difference, my dear friend. Happy 2021!"
Relations between Turkey and Greece are at odds due to several issues. Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent several drillships over the past year to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations.
The European Union leaders meeting in Brussels on Dec. 10 decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions over what they described as Ankara's "unilateral actions and provocations" in the Eastern Mediterranean, an area believed to be rich in energy resources.