ANKARA – After saying that Turkey could invade Greece and “come suddenly one night,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan his country’s short-range ballistic missiles could hit Athens and warned Greece not to further arm Aegean islands.
He said that Turkey’s ballistic missile test frightened Greece and ratcheted up the tension after demanding that Greece take troops off islands near Turkey’s coast, citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t recognize.
Turkey test fired a locally made, short-range ballistic missile, dubbed Tayfun, which means “typhoon” in Turkish, over the Black Sea in October. The missile can hit targets at a distance of 561 kilometers (349 miles) in 456 seconds (7.6 minutes) Turkish officials said, reported the Bloomberg news agency.
“You say ‘Tayfun’ and they’re scared, they say it’ll hit Athens,” Erdogan said. “Yeah, of course it’ll hit it. If you don’t stay calm – if you try to send weapons you got from the US to the islands – a country like Turkey certainly won’t go around picking pears. It has to do something,” he said.
He has become more aggressive in threats after NATO, the defense alliance to which both countries belong, refused to intervene over repeated Turkish violations of Greek airspace and praised Turkey instead as a “valuable ally.”
Erdogan is also upset over what he said was the movement of American-supplied weapons being sent to the islands which, if demilitarized as he wants, would leave them open to a takeover.
He has said he covets the return of those islands given away under the Treaty of Lausanne and Turkey’s defense chief has added to the heat with similar warnings for Greece to remove its troops or face a possible conflict.
Greece has also called on Turkey to stop questioning its sovereignty over the Dodecanese , islands given to Greece, including Rhodes and Kos, by Italy following World War II, the report also noted.