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EU adopts firmer stance on Ankara rhetoric

BRUSSELS – The European Commission’s initial lackluster response to a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that he no longer recognizes Kyriakos Mitsotakis and is severing all ties with the Greek prime minister became firmer later on Wednesday, with one high-ranking official saying that the EU demands respect for its leaders and member-states.

Kathimerini understands that the change in tone came after Athens’ permanent representation at the European Union expressed dismay at the Commission’s failure to adopt a more definitive stance in support of member-state Greece.

“The EU is facing a war, a geopolitical crisis and a major economic strain, so the last thing we need is inflammatory rhetoric and unprovoked attacks and characterizations,” said Commission Vice President for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas when asked at a press conference about the Turkish president’s comments and Ankara’s objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

“We demand and expect respect for all our leaders and all our member-states,” he said, adding that neither Finland and Sweden, nor the Greek prime minister “need to prove their democratic credentials.”

In the meantime, Secretary General of European External Action Service Stefano Sannino on Wednesday “transmitted to Amb. Bozay [Ankara’s permanent representative to the EU] our serious concern about Turkey’s military aircraft’s flights near Greek city of Alexandroupolis,” the EU officials said on Twitter.

“Respecting international law and refraining from actions undermining cohesion between allies is at this critical juncture more important than ever,” added Sannino, one of the closest associates of European Commission foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.