ATHENS – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it won’t avail Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tying himself to the United States for help as tensions are rising over the seas, refugees and the islands.
“The Greek Prime Minister is seeking help from the U.S. Against what? Against Turkey. Whatever you do, we will continue to and are ready to do whatever is necessary,” he said, reported the pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah.
Erdogan wants Greek troops off Greek islands near Turkey’s coast, his government has staked claim to Greek waters and he said Greece is pushing back refugees – that Turkey lets human traffickers keep sending in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
“We watch in awe as Greek ferries bury innocent people in the Aegean and Mediterranean,” he said, not mentioning Turkey’s role in the tragedies of people who went there as a jumping-off point to the EU.
Erdogan spoke after Greece’s government said that Mitsotakis would be willing to meet with him on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Prague – but only if he asked.
He earlier broke off all communications with Mitsotakis after the Greek leader, in an address to the US Congress in May, asked lawmakers there to reject President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16s – that could be used against Greece – and to upgrade Turkey’s Air Force.
Erdoğan has accused Greece of “crimes against humanity,” referring to its treatment of migrants and illegal pushbacks, and of arming islands in the Aegean Sea, citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t recognize.