BY DAILY SABAH
a chance to escalate tensions in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Monday.
Referring to Athens’ recent military drills and violation of the demilitarized status of the Aegean islands, Akar said, “Greece is making every attempt to increase the tension with unreasonable, illogical and unlawful demands and claims along with its ongoing provocative actions and aggressive rhetoric.”
In a videoconference meeting with Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) commanders and unit commanders, Akar noted that all kinds of “unlawful actions” of Greece are given the necessary response on the ground and in the diplomatic field based on the principle of reciprocity.
It is “never possible for us to allow any fait accompli,” he added.
Criticizing some Greek politicians and military figures for using saber-rattling against Türkiye as domestic political fodder, he said they should instead “focus on solving problems through dialogue and learn from history.”
“We expect some Greek politicians and military figures to immediately abandon their intransigent and provocative attitudes (that they have adopted) for domestic political purposes, focus on solving problems through dialogue and learn from history. Those who want a better tomorrow should turn away from the mistakes of yesterday and today.”
Recently, Greece carried out a military drill on the Aegean island of Rhodes, just 84 kilometers (52 miles) from the Turkish coastal city of Fethiye.
Meanwhile, the Greek government lashed out at Türkiye after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned over the weekend to hit Athens with indigenously developed ballistic missiles on Monday.
“It is unacceptable and universally condemnable for threats of a missile attack against Greece to be made by an allied country, a NATO member,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Monday, arriving in Brussels for a European Union foreign affairs meeting.
“North Korean attitudes cannot and must not enter the North Atlantic Alliance,” he claimed.
Speaking during a town hall meeting with youth in Türkiye’s Samsun on Saturday, Erdoğan said that Türkiye had begun making its own short-range ballistic missiles called Tayfun, which was “frightening the Greeks.”
“(The Greeks) say ‘It (the missiles) can hit Athens,’” said Erdoğan, whose comments were aired late Sunday. “Of course, it will. If you don’t stay calm, if you try to buy things from the United States and other places (to arm) the islands, a country like Türkiye … has to do something.”
Türkiye and Greece are at odds over several issues, including competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.
Türkiye, a vital NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under international treaties, saying that such moves frustrate its good faith efforts for peace.
Ankara accuses Athens of illegally militarizing Greek islands in the East Aegean and questions Greece’s sovereignty over them. There is also a dispute over the exploitation of mineral resources in the Aegean. Türkiye has also ramped up the criticism of its NATO ally the U.S. for abandoning a balanced policy and escalating tensions on the issues of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, reiterating that it will protect its rights and interests against the Greek side.
Despite saying that it has no intention of entering an arms race with its neighbor and NATO ally Türkiye, Greece also continues to carry out an ambitious rearmament program for its armed forces. Greece’s burgeoning arms program is designed to counter the protection of Turkish interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Türkiye has often warned Greece against indulging in an arms race, offering to resolve all outstanding issues, including in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and the island of Cyprus, through dialogue.