Greece-Turkey Tensions Flare after Erdogan Defeat; More S-400 Warnings from U.S. 

Supporters of Ekrem Imamoglu, the candidate of the secular opposition Republican People's Party, CHP, cheer at a celebratory rally in Constantinople, late Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo)

ATHENS – The theory that the threatening words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hurling at Greece in recent weeks was just domestic political bluster whose purpose was to help him snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Constantinople’s recent mayoral election was put to the test this week when the Turkish leader continued to raise the stakes.

Showing less and less concern for U.S. positions and Greek admonitions, Erdogan said on Tuesday, “We have four ships in the area and we have taken measures. The prime minister of Greece has been talking on his own, but regardless of what he says, we have rights there,” Erdogan was quoted by Kathimerini.

Even Erdogan’s political opponents chimed in and the leader of a Turkish opposition party, Devlet Bahceli, on Wednesday warned Athens that it is “playing with fire.”


It was his internal political opponents, however, who were Erdogan’s most salient concern. “In his first public appearance since a crushing defeat in a rerun election for mayor of Istanbul,” AP reported, “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed to draw lessons and make adjustments in line with ‘the messages given by the people.’”

Turkey’s 230-meter (750-foot) drillship ‘Yavuz’ crosses the Marmara Sea on its way to the Mediterranean, from the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

He was addressing legislators from his party in Parliament, where he congratulated opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who became Mayor of Constantinople after winning 54.21% of the vote in last Sunday’s election do-over.

“In line with our political understanding, we cannot be angry or hold a grudge or blame the people… we don’t have the luxury of turning a deaf ear and ignoring the messages given by the people,” Erdogan said after the crushing personal and partisan defeat – he presented the election as a referendum on his governance at a time of Turkish economic weakness.

“The win electrified the secular party that has spent nearly two decades in lackluster opposition as Erdogan strengthened his hold on power. The opposition also gained hold of the municipality of the capital, Ankara, in the March 31 local elections,” wrote AP.


Turkey’s Foreign Minister, however, was free to stray. On the sidelines of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis explained Athens’ opposition to Turkey’s drilling plans off Cyprus during a meeting with Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar. “I expressed our objections to their activities in the Aegean and Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone. I reiterated that we want peace and security but will in no way back down from defending our sovereign rights…We want to avoid tension. Besides, this is the purpose of the talks between our technical teams around over the confidence-building measures,” he added, according to Kathimerini.

Earlier on Wednesday Greece’s National Council for Foreign Policy discussed measures the European Union is considering taking against Turkey over its drilling plans.


On another front that does not bode well for stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, Kathimerini reported that “Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper made it clear to Turkey on Wednesday that it will face economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the purchase of a Russian missile defense system, as the standoff between the two NATO allies dragged on.”

Esper met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar during a NATO meeting this week and reinforced the U.S. message regarding the S-400, declaring that if Turkey buys the system, “it will not be allowed to buy the high-tech F-35 fighter jet. The meeting, however, ended with no discernible results,” according to AP.

Turkey is rejecting ultimatums from Washington and insists that the purchase is a done deal. The U.S. considers the Russian system a threat to the fighter jet, justifying dropping Ankara from the F-35 program if it buys the S-400. It was instead offered the American-made Patriot missile defense system as an alternative.

Esper, explained to reporters that, “Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and ally for many, many years,” but that “the pursuit of the S-400 undermines that.”

According to AP, “The U.S. has already stopped training Turkish pilots on the F-35, and given Ankara until the end of July to get its personnel out of the U.S.”

The topic is expected to come up in the next few days during an expected meeting between President Donald Trump and Tayyip Erdogan during the Group of 20 meeting in Japan.

Erdogan expressed his view to reporters on Thursday “If NATO allies are now imposing sanctions on each other, I don’t know anything about that,” Erdogan said. “These are not impressions I got from the talks I have had with Mr. Trump until now.”

Material from Naftemporiki, the Associated Press and Kathimerini was used in this article.


  1. Sirigos..why can/t you write an accurate gleefully writing that the U.S is threatening Turkey if they buy the recognized most reliable anti ballistic misslie system in the world…that make the F-35 fighter obsolete, since, it can compromise the stealthy feature.built into these fighters!

    Why not tell the readers.that Greece, and any other country in the world has been threatened with Economic sanctions, like Turkey and non Nato countries which break international laws of trade ..and make third party countries wage economic warfare against not their enemies , but of another foreign country!

    Why not tell the readers..that countries like China, Pakistan, Egypt , India and other major purchasers of the .S-400 have told the Gestapo military agents.that they have the sovereign right to buy anything from anybody who support their defense of their country!

    They also like Greece…have been threatened in buying oil from Iran and Venezuela by the United States!

    So Mr. Sirigos..are you stupid or completely incompetent to inform Greek Americans. that what the U.S is doing to Turkey.has absolutely nothing to do with Greece, and only reflects how degenerate America is !

    So the Traitors, Tsipras and Anastasiades continue to make a mockery of the democracy of not acquiring cheaper Iranian oil and the best defense missiles in the world.that would destroy those Brand new F-35 that Turkey will get.or move out of Nato!

    Stop insulting us…

    1. What a surprise. MIchael Gianakos, who claims to be Greek, arguing on behalf of Erdogan.

      If anyone believes this troll is Greek rather than a propagandist troll shamelessly pretending to be Greek I hear there is a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.

  2. continued…This is what real leaders do in countries who do not answer to Washington like Tsipras and with Geoffrey Pyatt and Robert Menendez who asked them to give up the Macedonian Name, stop buying oil from Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, do not buy superior Russian anti ballistic missile system..and place oil poluting oil rigs of Exxon Mobil that are banned on the shores of America in Cyprus now Crete. as follows… …

    India would not cut off Venezuelan oil imports, or turn away Huawei from participation in its 5G network infrastructure, despite Washington’s request to do so. Neither would it scrap Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, which potentially subjects it to US sanctions. “We will do what is in our national interest,” Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stated during a media conference with Pompeo.

    And to top it off ..they increased tariffs on American products for raising tariffs on all countries exporting steel to America and the now proven to be clone of Hillary Clinton is upset!

    Mr. Sirigos . The people of Americo have stated that the number one problem for them today the fake news by you and Main stream media ..which have become merely the political propaganda oullets for the Billionaire Aristocrats who happen to own the Congress of the United Staters and MSM!

    1. Michael why do you constantly smear philhellene Menenedez? Menendez is one of the few foreign politicians that for years has been vocal about Turkish violations of our waters while Russians, Americans and pretty much everyone else said absolutely nothing to condemn Turkey’s behavior… He was one of the few foreign politicians that supported Greece in the Macedonian name dispute. Although I strongly disagree with Prespa, Menendez praises Tsipras because he is philhellenic. He will do the exact same for Mitsotakis.

      I have observed you spend considerable amounts of time on this website obsessively arguing pro-Russian positions. In this instance, you defend Erdogan buying weapons from Russia — whose primary purpose would be against Greece?

      I haven nothing against Russians on personal level but they no less antihellenic than many Americans. Didn’t Russians also call Skopians “Macedonians”? Didn’t Russians also look the other way as Turks violated our waters? What has Russia done for Greece for you to obsessively support them so?

      Your positions on this website clearly have nothing to do with protecting Greece. You seem to be a
      paid foreign shill that comes here pretending to be Greek to spread propaganda. My guess is either Russian or Turkish, I highly recommend to the moderator to examine the Is of “Gianakos” for irregularities. Disagreement is free speech but those paid to spread propaganda for another state is another matter entirely.

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