Greece is bracing for what’s expected to be an emboldened Turkish President Recep Tayyip drawing lines in the sea and becoming more aggressive in asserting his claims to areas in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
Erdogan typically mouths off against Greece with fiery rhetoric that frequently is followed by him backing away from threats but he’s been upping the ante and the volume, raising tension and growing worries of a conflict.
Seeing the European Union, NATO, United Nations and United States reluctant to provoke him, the hard-line Turkish leader has demanded Greece remove troops from islands near Turkey’s coast and said it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles.
Now, after saying – but with no proof – that Greek missile defense systems locked on to Turkish F-16 fighter jets accompanying US B-52 bombers during a NATO exercise, he threatened to “come down suddenly one night.”
Turkey’s drones provide a distinct advantage against Greece, which is scrambling to find countermeasures and Erodgan spoke at an aerial technology festival showing the prototy[e of an unmanned fighter jet.
Turkish fighters continue to regularly violate Greek airspace, with NATO – to which both belong – looking the other way, refusing to intervene and even praising Turkey as a “valuable ally” despite buying Russian S-400 missile systems that undermine the defense alliance and threaten Greece.
Compounding the problem is that both Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis face tough re-election campaigns in 2023 and are already playing to the masses and showing off military might.
Turkey also warned Greece that this year could bring “a new 1922,” marking 100 years since Greece suffered crushing defeats in Asia Minor that saw Turkey occupy the land.
Erdogan also refuses to talk to Mitsotakis, angered that the Greek leader, speaking to the United States Congress in May, urged lawmakers to veto President Joe Biden’s plan to sell more F-16s to Turkey.