Turkey accuses Greece of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea
On Saturday, Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, accused Greece of controlling the Aegean islands with a demilitarized status and said Turkey was ready to “do what is necessary” if necessary.
Turkey and Greece have been at odds over a variety of topics over the years, including overflights, the status of the Aegean islands, maritime borders, the availability of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean and ethnically divided Cyprus. Both countries are also members of NATO.
Erdogan had not previously accused Greece of occupying the demilitarized Aegean islands, but Ankara has now accused Athens of arming them, a charge Athens denies.
“We are not bound by your occupation of the islands. When the time comes, we will take the necessary measures,” speaking in the northern province of Samsun, Erdogan added.
In response, Greece said it would not embrace Turkey’s “scandalous daily slide” of proclamations and threats.
The content of the inflammatory remarks will be shared with our allies and partners, the Foreign Office said, “to make it clear who is putting dynamite to the cohesion of our alliance during a dangerous time”.
Recently, Turkey has been furious with what it claims are Greek forces harassing its jets. According to Ankara, during a routine flight, Greek S-300 air defense systems clung to Turkish aircraft.
On August 30, Turkiye observed Victory Day, a national holiday honoring the victory of Turkish forces over Greek forces in 1922. Erdogan urged Greece to “not forget Izmir” on Saturday in reference to the Turkish victory.
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Erdogan highlighted achievements on the international stage as he prepares for what looks to be the toughest election of his nearly 20-year term in 2023. Moreover, he has stepped up his foreign policy discourse.
According to Ankara, Greece received the Aegean islands under the 1923 and 1947 treaties on the condition that it not arm them. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, has repeatedly indicated that if Athens continues to equip the islands, Turkey will begin to challenge Greek sovereignty over them.
The Turkish position challenging Greece’s sovereignty over the islands, according to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is “absurd”.
(with contributions from agencies)