Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a thinly veiled threat of military action against fellow NATO member Greece in Saturday comments. Erdogan reiterated the Turkish government accusation that Greece is militarizing islands near Turkey’s post in contravention of a historic treaty and international agreements.
“You occupying the islands doesn’t bind us,” Erdogan said. “When the time comes, we’ll do what’s necessary. As we say, we may come down suddenly one night.” He added: “Look at history, if you go further, the price will be heavy.”
“We have one sentence to Greece: Don’t forget Izmir,” Erdogan said in reference to the 1922 battle which saw Greek forces expelled from the western city. He also more broadly referenced 1919-1922 Greco-Turkish war while provocatively stressing that Greece is “occupying” islands off Turkey.
The fiery words were spoken on the occasion of Turkey’s military unveiling a new prototype of an unmanned fighter jet in the city of Samsun, and further days after Ankara has lodged a formal complaint with NATO headquarters, saying that Greece last month achieved radar lock on its F-16s which had been flying over the Mediterranean.
Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily announced last week that the defense ministry “will send the radar traces and pictures of the Greek harassment of the Turkish jets by the S-300 air defense systems to NATO as well as to all 30 allied countries, according to sources.”
Turkey has also charged that Greek jets have violated its airspace over 250 times in harassing maneuvers. “The ministry also informed that the Greek warplanes violated the Turkish airspace 256 times since the beginning of 2022,” the Hurriyet report said. “In addition, they harassed the Turkish jets 158 times this year, the ministry said. On the sea, the Greek coastal guards violated the Turkish territorial waters 33 times, it added.”
Greece’s foreign ministry has responded by denouncing the “outrageous daily slide” of threats and hostile rhetoric coming out of Ankara. “We will inform our allies and partners on the content of the provocative statements… to make it clear who is setting dynamite to the cohesion of our alliance during a dangerous period,” the foreign ministry statement said.
/2 Turkish leader Erdogan ups war rhetoric on Greece https://t.co/g9foQEshww
▪️warned Greece not to go any further (no defensive measures Vs Turkey’s aggression)
▪️He doubts again sovereignty of Greece over islands.He called them “occupiers”
▪️Warned of strike without warning !
— Marios Karatzias (@MariosKaratzias) September 3, 2022
For years, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been at odds over expanding Turkish oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is using its occupation of northern Cyprus to say that all waters encircling the island are fair game for its research and drilling vessels.
Other EU members, particularly France, have strongly supported EU-member Cyprus’ condemnation of incursions in its territorial waters. France has even conducted a series of joint exercises with Greece and Cyprus in solidarity.