Greece has lashed out at Turkey for alleging that the government in Athens is aiding and abetting what Ankara sees as Kurdish terrorists. But the accusation, contained in a newly released video, comes after reports in Greece that Turkey has granted citizenship to Islamic State militants. The fresh accusations traded by the two NATO allies may threaten ongoing negotiations to ease long-standing differences that nearly sparked a war between them last year.
It is not the first time Turkey has made such accusations against Greece.
"One country that stands out as a haven for the PKK is our neighbor and NATO ally, Greece," says a voice in the video. The PKK is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been waging a decades-long insurgency inside southeastern Turkey and is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara.
Yet in rebuffing the claim, calling it “mythical" and "propaganda,” the foreign ministry in Athens questioned the timing of the video’s release by the chief communications adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The video comes days after reports in Greece accused Ankara of granting citizenship to a number of IS militants – a move that raises serious concerns about Turkey's border controls with Syria. The interior and finance ministries have seized the assets of eight people suspected of having links to the terror group.
The video comes days before Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias goes to Ankara to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to thrash out long-standing differences between the two neighbors.
It won’t be an easy round of talks, says analyst Manolis Kostidis. He also says the Turkish side will raise several issues and it’s highly unlikely that even if the talks do go well, that Greece can start speaking of improved relations between the age-old foes.
Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over sea and air rights in the Aegean Sea that divides them. In the past year, relations have deteriorated over oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean – a standoff that nearly brought the two NATO allies to the brink of war.
Since then, senior European Union officials and the United States have intervened, bringing the two sides to a negotiating table to sort out differences.
Two rounds of exploratory talks have so far made little progress and the coming discussions between the Greek and Turkish ministers are being seen as an attempt to salvage the process altogether.
But with both sides trading accusations anew, analysts like Apostolos Maggiriadis, say they fear negotiations may be derailed.
The feeling among diplomats in Athens, he says, is that there is a concerted attempt by Turkey’s deep state to torpedo these talks. But Greece, he says, does not want to appear as the side abandoning the process and it will keep to its pledge of sending its foreign minister to Turkey.
Athens has suggested taking bilateral differences to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if negotiations with Ankara fail to produce a diplomatic breakthrough.
The talks are scheduled to begin Wednesday.