ATHENS – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat that his country’s ballistic missiles could hit Athens in under 8 minutes is a lot like North Korea’s missile tests to rattle South Korea, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said.
“It is unacceptable and universally condemnable for threats of a missile attack against Greece to be made by an allied country, a NATO member,” Dendias said while attending a European Union meeting in Brussels.
“North Korean attitudes cannot and must not enter the North Atlantic alliance,” he said as NATO remained curiously quiet over the latest provocation from Turkey which the alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said is a “valuable ally.”
Seeing NATO back away, the volatile Erdogan has stepped up his verbal assaults after saying Turkish forces could “come suddenly one night” in an invasion as her anger grew over Greece refusing to remove troops from Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast.
Erdogan issued his chilling remarks at a question and answer session with young people in the Black Sea city of Samsun, said the US-based Al-Monitor which reports on the Mideast and region.
“Now we have started to produce our own missiles. This production of course frightens the Greeks,” he said in his latest round of warnings and threats that have gone unanswered by NATO.
“(When) you say ‘Tayfun,’ the Greek is scared. ‘It will hit Athens,’ he says. Well, of course it will hit. If you don’t stay calm, if you try to bring something from America to the islands, from here and there, a country like Turkey … has to do something.”
He was referring to the Typhoon, one of the latest additions to Turkey’s home-grown arsenal, a missile that has a range of 561 kilometers (349 miles,) with Athens just 222 kilometers (138 miles) from the nearest Turkish territory.
Erdogan prefaced his comments about the missiles by noting investment in the Turkish defense industry under his 20-year rule, reducing reliance on foreign arms. “When we took office, the defense industry was 20 percent domestic; now it’s 80 percent domestic,” he said.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar accused Greece of “unreasonable, illogical and unlawful demands and claims, as well as constant provocative actions and aggressive rhetoric,” the site said.
Citing a video conference with military commanders, the Defense Ministry said Akar told Greek politicians and generals to “immediately abandon their intransigent and provocative attitudes” that they are using for “domestic political purposes.”
Greek New Democracy government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou told reporters in Athens that Greece could be “neither terrorized nor intimidated,” adding: “Mr. Erdogan thinks that as many times as he repeats the irrational and unjust, he can make it rational and just. That is not going to happen.”
He said that Greece was “absolutely determined” to defend “international legality … its sovereignty and its sovereign rights.”
Both Turkey and Greece are due to hold elections next summer, and many observers note that saber rattling could be pitched at securing nationalist votes and were just idle threats, the report also indicated.