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Politics

Fired-Up Erdogan Warns Greece “Crazy Turks” Could Attack

ATHENS – He’s been saying it so much in the run-up to Turkish elections it’s become a kind of mantra, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning about invading Greece turned up a notch when he said the “Crazy Turks” could be coming.

While Greek officials generally are said to believe he’s just posturing and playing to his ultra-nationalist base as he’s facing a strong challenge – unless more rivals are jailed – Erdogan has nonetheless turned up the heat.

He fired off a shot at Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an undiplomatic wording seeming to show disrespect, after earlier saying that  that Turkish missiles could strike Athens in minutes.

“Look Mitsotakis, you are speaking here and there, but you should know that if you make a mistake, then crazy Turks would march,” Erdogan said at a rally of zealous supporters, before denying he would use the missiles,” reported Bloomberg financial news.

He said that Turkey’s Tayfun short-range ballistic missile has scared Greece and stressed, “We are not so concerned about striking Athens as long as you are smart,” he said, essentially telling Greece to beware anyway.

“If you militarize the islands, will we sit with our hands tied? Look Mitsotakis, you are talking left and right again. Know this: If you try to make a mistake, you know that the crazy Turks will make an attack. But if you stay smart and well-behaved, we have no business with you,” he said.

That was in reference to his constant demands that Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – which he doesn’t recognize – and as he openly covets return of Greek islands to Turkey.

He spoke after reporters questioned him about Mitsotakis’ comments at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland that, “the issue of the Greek islands, Crete and the Libya deal are not open for discussion,” although that was over Turkish plans to drill for energy near them.

“Mitsotakis can say such things. But these statements by Mitsotakis are not enough to determine the fate of the region. First of all, we see that both the Lausanne Treaty and the approach regarding the islands are not currently being implemented by the Greek authorities. Therefore, there can be no such thing as the militarization of the islands. But what are they doing now? They are militarizing these islands and they are going against both the Treaty of Lausanne and the other agreements,” he said, according to media reports.

“We are taking the necessary steps, we are responding [to Greek allegations] in international forums. They (the Greeks) will do what is necessary,” he said, without explaining what he meant.

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