ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there’s no need for the United States, as planned, to establish a greater military presence in Greece, upset over the renewal of a defense pact between Greece and Washington.
That came as Turkey, which is demanding that Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast and is encroaching on Greece’s seas, was preparing for annual military drills and Erdogan testing Greece’s government.
“There are nine US bases right now. They were established in Greece. Against whom were they established? The answer they give is ‘against Russia.’ We don’t buy it, take no offense,” Bloomberg quoted Erdogan as saying during a joint press conference with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The US wants more bases on Greece – it has troops on a Turkish base as well – and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been seeking further alliances agaist Turkish provocations, buying French-made Rafale fighter jets and warships.
Erdogan and even rival party politicians in Turkey have suggested that unless Greece takes troops off the islands that Turkey may seize them by force and there are worries about a conflict, accidental or otherwise, developing.
While NATO has refused to intervene over repeated violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and warships, Erdogan said he would block any hopes of Sweden and Finland joining the defense alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine making them worry.
Turkey had already undermined the security of NATO by buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that could also be used against Greece in a conflict and Erdogan refused to go along with European Union sanctions against Russia.