Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened this Sunday to attack Greece with ballistic missiles if Athens persists in what the Turkish president considers a confrontational attitude with the Turkish armed forces in the Aegean Sea.
“They are afraid that the tayfun it hits Athens and it goes well for them, because if they don’t calm down, it will,” Erdogan said. “If they try to send things they buy from the United States to the islands, a country like Turkey cannot look the other way,” the Turkish president added during a youth conference at his coastal stronghold in Samsun.
The Tayfun is a Turkish ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers that was recently tested over the Black Sea.
In response, the Greek government lashed out at Turkey on Monday, calling Erdogan’s comments “unacceptable.”
“It is unacceptable and universally condemnable that a NATO ally country threatens Greece with missile attacks,” said the Greek foreign minister, Nikos Dendiasupon his arrival in Brussels to attend a meeting of the European Union on foreign affairs.
“North Korea’s attitudes cannot and should not enter the North Atlantic Alliance“, he claimed.
Relations between the neighbors and NATO allies have long been tense, with the two sides divided on a number of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the Mediterranean Oriental. They have been on the brink of war three times in the last half century.
Turkey has stepped up rhetoric in recent months, and Turkish government officials say Athens’ alleged violations of international treaties cast doubt on the sovereignty of some Greek islands. Erdoğan too threatened to land Turkish troops in Greece “suddenly one night”. Even so, the threat of a missile attack is very rare.
“Erdogan must know well that our country cannot be terrorized or intimidated,” said the Greek government spokesman, Giannis Oikonomou, during a press conference in Athens. “Mr. Erdogan thinks that as many times as he repeats what is irrational and unfair, he can make it rational and fair. That will not happen.”
Greece, Oikonomou said, “is absolutely determined, it is always prepared, ready to defend international legality, to defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights.”
Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Minister, Hulusi Akaraccused Greece of increasing tensions with “unreasonable demands and claimsillogical and illegal, as well as constant actions of provocation and aggressive rhetoric”.
Akar was apparently referring to Turkish accusations that Greece was deploying troops and weapons to islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of treaties that require the islands not to be militarized.
“It is not possible for us to accept any kind of fait accompli,” Akar was quoted as saying by the Defense Ministry during a video conference with military commanders on Monday.
“Our expectation is that some Greek politicians and military will immediately abandon their hard-line and provocative attitudes (which they have adopted) for internal political purposes, focus on solving problems through dialogue and learn from history. Those who want a better tomorrow must turn away from the mistakes of yesterday and today.
(With information from AP)
Erdogan threatened Greece with “sudden military action”