Turkey accuses Greece of militarizing its Aegean islands
On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of militarizing its Aegean islands in order to threaten Turkey, but the latest salvo in a series of tit-for-tat accusations between the two NATO members. Erdogan has called for the immediate demilitarization of the islands, stressing that Turkey will never give up its ‘rights’ to the Aegean Sea, statements that come weeks after he condemned Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for pressuring the White House to block imminent sales of US F-16s to Ankara.
The cool words also came on the last day of the Turkish multinational military exercise “Efes-2022”, centered on the coastal city of Izmir. “We call on Greece to stop arming islands that have non-military status and act in accordance with international agreements,” Erdogan said. said. “I’m not kidding, I’m serious. This nation is determined.”
“I warn Greece to avoid dreams, deeds and statements that will bring regret. Come to your senses,” he said in a televised address related to the exercises. “Turkey will not give up its rights to the Aegean Sea and will not back down to use the rights established by international agreements when it comes to arming islands,” he added.
Erdogan further swore that Turkey would continue it’s controversial exploration of hydrocarbons in the region, which Greece, Cyprus and some EU countries like France have condemned as violating Greek and Cypriot territorial waters. Erdogan claimed that Greece violated the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris. He said Greece had previously received the islands on the condition that they remain demilitarized.
“The agreements are there but Greece is violating them. It’s arming them. If Greece does not put an end to this violation, the sovereignty of the islands will be questioned“, he said. “It’s as clear as that. You will respect the agreements.” Questioning the “sovereignty of the islands”, Erdogan seemed to suggest that a Turkish military intervention was on the table, given also that he had made the veiled threat during exercises major military led by Turkey.
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Greece responded by saying that Turkey had long deliberately misinterpreted and distorted the content of historic treaties, and further that Ankara’s ongoing threat of war justified Greece taking action to defend itself. As The Associated Press reports:
In Athens, Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said Greece was dealing with Turkey “Provocation” with “calm and determination”.
“It is clear to everyone that our country has improved its geostrategic and geopolitical footprint as well as its deterrent capability to be able to defend national sovereignty and sovereign rights at any time,” he said.
Erdogan also used Thursday’s speech to address Western allies, telling them to stay away from ‘legitimate’ security operations – in reference to an anti-Kurdish military action planned by Turkey in the south, on the other side of the Syrian border.
“We will never allow the establishment of terrorist corridors along the borders of our country, and we will definitely complete the missing parts of our security zone,” the Turkish leader said in reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK , and its Syrian extension. the YPGs.
Erdogan continued, “We hope that none of our true allies and friends will oppose our legitimate security concerns.” However, Europe and the United States constantly opposed him in Syrian cross-border operations. Washington has repeatedly told Ankara that US forces supporting Syrian Kurdish groups could be at risk in Turkish operations, warning against any further push inside Syrian territory. At the same time, Turkey has maintained a firm line to block Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership.
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