ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish and German foreign ministers argued over a range of issues in a tense and drawn-out news conference on Friday, trading barbs over disputes between Ankara and Athens, jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala and Kurdish militants.
The news conference, which began an hour later than scheduled and ran for an hour, started off with calm remarks by the two ministers but became increasingly testy as they criticised each other's policies.
Turkey rejects blame for deadly Iraq shelling
Iraqi officials have blamed Turkey for an airstrike on the Kurdistan region that killed at least eight tourists. Artillery shelling on Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan killed at least eight civilians and wounded 20 others, local officials said on Wednesday, blaming the attack on Turkey. The "fierce artillery bombing" hit a tourist resort in Zakho, a city on the border between Iraq's Kurdistan region and Turkey, state TV said. The Kurdish health minister said children, including a 1-year-old, were among the victims, adding that they all died before reaching a hospital. All the victims were Iraqi tourists from other regions.
Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu said Germany had lost its impartiality in mediating between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, adding that it should listen to all sides without prejudice.
"Third countries, including Germany, should not be a tool to provocation and propaganda especially by Greece and the Greek Cypriot side," he said during the news conference in Istanbul.
Relations between Athens and Ankara are strained over a raft of issues ranging from overflights to competing claims for offshore waters.
Cyprus, which was partitioned in 1974 when Turkey invaded its northern third in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup, is a main point of division.
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Turkey's Erdogan rails at Greece over Muslim minority rights
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday criticized Greece for allegedly violating a settlement that has governed relations between the rivals for nearly a century. In a statement released on the 99th anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty, Erdogan accused Athens of undermining the rights of the Muslim minority in Greece’s Thrace region. Muslims in Thrace make up about 32% of the province’s population and consist of ethnic Turks, Roma and Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks. “The conditions registered in the treaty, especially the rights of the Turkish minority, have been ignored or deliberately eroded,” the nationalist leader said.
Germany's Annalena Baerbock said issues cannot be solved in the eastern Mediterranean by increasing tensions.
Baerbock later turned attention to philanthropist Kavala and called on Turkey to implement rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
"It is my responsibility as foreign minister to respect and defend rulings of the ECHR, without exception and at all times," she said, adding that Kavala should be freed.
The ECHR said this month that Turkey had not implemented the 2019 ruling over Kavala, as part of infringement proceedings, which could see Ankara suspended from the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog.
Cavusoglu responded by saying Greece, Norway and Germany had also not implemented other rulings by the ECHR and accused Germany of funding Kavala. Kavala was sentenced to life in prison without parole in April on charges of financing 2013 nationwide "Gezi" protests in what rights groups say was a political trial.
"Why do you constantly bring up Osman Kavala? Because you are using Osman Kavala against Turkey. We know how much he was funded during the Gezi events," Cavusoglu said.
The ECHR ruled in 2019 that Kavala's detention aimed to silence him and evidence was not enough to support the charges against him.
Cavusoglu also criticised Berlin for "embracing" Kurdish militants. Baerbock said Germany, as well as the European Union, treats the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, as a terrorist organisation.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Ankara and Maria Sheahan in Berlin; Additional reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul; Editing by Catherine Evans and Grant McCool)