Crack down on Turkey or risk another Ukraine – POLITICO


ATHENS — Greece says Europe risks another situation in Ukraine if it does not end Turkey’s inflammatory rhetoric towards Athens.

Earlier this week, the Greek Foreign Ministry sent letters to NATO, the United Nations and the EU complaining about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments which it called “unprovoked, unacceptable and insulting against Greece and the Greek people” and asking organizations to condemn Ankara’s behavior.

“By not doing it in time or by underestimating the seriousness of the matter, we risk witnessing again a situation similar to the one currently unfolding in another part of our continent,” the minister wrote. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in letters dated Monday and Tuesday. , alluding to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Erdoğan has stepped up his rhetoric against Greece in recent days, amid what Ankara sees as a growing military buildup on Greece’s Aegean islands near the Turkish coastline. In a repeated, thinly veiled threat, he said, “We can come down suddenly one night when the time is right.”

“They have islands in their possession, they have bases on these islands; if illegitimate threats against us continue based on them, our patience has a limit,” he said on a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday.

Greece called Erdoğan’s remarks “overtly threatening” in their nature and tone.

“The Turkish attitude is a destabilizing factor for NATO unity and cohesion, weakening the southern flank of the Alliance at a time of crisis,” Dendias said, adding that Greece “is currently experiencing one of its worst periods in years”.

Dendias underlined that “the overtly threatening nature and tone are more than evident, thus dispelling any doubt as to their purpose, as well as any allegation that they are only intended for internal reasons in view of the upcoming elections in the country”.

Despite being NATO allies, the neighboring countries have been at odds for decades over a number of bilateral disputes, including maritime borders, overlapping claims to their continental shelves and the long-running dispute over Cyprus.

Much to the anger of the Turks, Greece granted the US military unrestricted access to key bases in an update to their mutual defense cooperation agreement in October 2021. Erdoğan halted all bilateral talks with the Greece last May after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged U.S. lawmakers to block arms sales to Turkey. Military provocations escalated soon after, creating the most volatile situation since the two sides nearly came to blows in 2020 over Turkey carrying out energy explorations in waters claimed by Greece.

On Monday, the EU expressed concern over Erdoğan’s comments, while the US State Department called them “unnecessary” and repeated that Greek sovereignty over the Aegean islands was “not not in question”.

Ankara also sent letters to the EU, NATO and the UN on September 1, accusing Greece of engaging in “illegal actions” and making “maximalist demands” in the Aegean Sea.




Politico

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