Greek PM wants to keep channels with Turkey open despite "unacceptable" comments

·1-min read
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks during a news conference at the annual International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki

ATHENS (Reuters) -Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday that Athens would try to keep communication channels with Ankara open despite recent "unacceptable" comments from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

The two countries - North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies but historic foes - have been at odds for decades over a range of issues including where their continental shelves start and end, overflights in the Aegean Sea, the status of demilitarised islands and divided Cyprus.

Erdogan has accused Greece of occupying demilitarised islands in the Aegean Sea, saying Turkey was ready to "do what is necessary" when the time came.

"I consider recent statements by the Turkish president unacceptable," Mitsotakis told a news conference in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

"However, we will always try to keep communication channels open," he said, adding he has been always willing to meet Erdogan.

The European Union last week voiced concern over Erdogan's statements, while Greece sent letters to NATO and the United Nations, complaining over what it called "inflammatory" comments.

According to Turkey's state-owned Anadolu news agency, Ankara has also sent letters to the European Union, NATO and the United Nations explaining its stance on the issues dividing the two countries.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Angeliki Koutantou; editing by John Stonestreet and Raissa Kasolowsky)