A US State Department spokesperson responded to a map released by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ultra-right MHP party leader Devlet Bahceli, showing many Greek Aegean islands and most of Crete as Turkish, by yet another firm affirmation that for the US the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Greece is not disputed.

Bahceli had been photographed with the map during a visit to the offices of the “Grey Wolves”, effectively the paramilitary arm of the ultra-nationalist, Islamist, and neo-fascist party.

Asked by a Greek correspondent whether Washington is concerned about the entrenchment of a nationalist and revisionist climate in Turkey, the spokesperson clearly dismissed the neo-Ottoman, expansionist map that claims large chunks of Greece’s maritime zones as Turkey’s “Blue Homeland”, without direct reference to it.

Call for diplomatic solution

In line with the decades-long US position, the State Department urged the two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, to resolve their disputes diplomatically, and to avoid inflammatory rhetoric.

Erdogan and top Turkish officials unleash attacks against the Greek PM and Greece quite regularly, especially over Ankara’s persistent demand that Greece demilitarise a number of its Eastern Aegean islands.

For his part, Bahceli claims that over 150 Greek islands and rock islets belong to Turkey, which is indeed in sync with the longstanding policy of the Turkish foreign ministry, although it was very rarely expressed publicly in the past.

For almost two months, diplomatic contacts between the two countries have stalled after Erdogan said he will never again meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis because in mid-May he urged a Joint Session of the US Congress not to sell arms to Turkey (alluding to a batch of 40 F-16 fighter jets that the Biden administration wants to sell Ankara).

The spokesperson said that the US continues to encourage its NATO allies Greece and Turkey to cooperate on maintaining peace and security in the region.

Mitsotakis tells Erdogan to take a stand on his coalition partner’s claims

In a tweet, the vice president of Bahceli’s MHP party, Edip Semih Yalcin, call the Greek PM the “deckhand” of US President Joe Biden, asserting that Mitsotakis was terrified by the MHP’s map.

“The deckhand of US President Biden, Pawn of French President Macron, Greek Prime Minister Miçotakis [Mitsotakis], was panicked when he saw the Aegean Islands map presented to MHP Leader Mr. Devlet Bahçeli, by the Ülkü Ocakları [Grey Wolves]”.

Mitsotakis responded from the prime ministerial official twitter account:

“Take a good look at this map. Crete, Rhodes, Lesvos, Chios, Samos all consumed by Turkey. Α fever dream of extremists or Turkey’s official policy? Another provocation or the true goal? President Erdogan must make his position clear on his junior coalition partner’s latest antics.”