WASHINGTON, DC – The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) released the following statement on September 8 concerning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest threats against Greece:
In a recent series of incendiary threats against Greece, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intimated an invasion of the Greek islands, stating, “Your occupation of the [Greek] islands does not bind us. When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. As we say, one night we can suddenly come down on you.” In addition, he said, “We have one sentence to Greece: Don’t forget Izmir,” in reference to the Smyrna Catastrophe caused by the Turkish military in 1922.
EU, U.S. Responses
Peter Stano, spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, stated, “The continuous hostile remarks by the political leadership of Turkey against Greece … raise serious concerns and fully contradict much needed de-escalation efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
A U.S. Department of State spokesman responded to the Athens Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) by stating: “The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected and protected. Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is not disputed. We call on all parties to refrain from rhetoric and actions that could further escalate tensions.”
AHI Calls for a Stronger, More Direct U.S. Response toward Turkey
“We strongly support the European Union’s clear condemnation of Turkey’s provocative remarks,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “Although we appreciate the State Department’s acknowledgement that Greece’s sovereignty is not in dispute, we are dismayed the agency failed to criticize Turkey directly. By calling on ‘all parties’ to refrain from provocative rhetoric, the State Department creates a false parity between Turkey and Greece. Turkey is the aggressor. Greece has never engaged in provocative or irredentist rhetoric against Turkey.”
He added, “Erdogan’s rhetoric reflects an increasingly deranged obsession with reconstructing a neo-Ottoman sphere of influence. At a time where the conflict in Ukraine is ongoing, we cannot afford to have the destabilization of NATO’s southeastern flank. We call on the U.S. State Department and the Administration to explicitly condemn and call out Turkey as the aggressor. The United States, the European Union, and NATO should call out Turkey to cease and desist, or face coordinated multilateral sanctions.”