Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece of occupying islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarised status, and said Turkey was prepared to “do what is necessary” when the time comes. “Remember Smyrna” Erdogan threatened during a speech in Samsun on Saturday.
Historic rivals while also being fellow members of NATO, Turkey and Greece have been at odds over issues ranging from overflights and the status of Aegean islands to maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean, as well as ethnically split Cyprus.
Ankara has recently accused Athens of arming the demilitarised Aegean islands – something Athens rejects, but Erdogan had not previously accused Greece of occupying them, reports Reuters..
“Your occupying the islands does not bind us. When the time, the hour, comes, we will do what is necessary,” Erdogan said, speaking in the northern province of Samsun.
Greece reacted by saying it will not follow Turkey in its “outrageous daily slide” of statements and threats.
“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 said.
Turkey has recently been angered by what it said is harassment of its jets by Greek forces. Ankara has said that S-300 air defence systems used by Greece had locked on to Turkish jets during a routine flight.
Ankara says the Aegean islands were given to Greece under the 1923 and 1947 treaties on condition that it does not arm them.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said Turkey’s position of questioning Greece’s sovereignty over the islands is “absurd”.
More on recent Turkish claims and threats to Greece here on KTG.