ANKARA – Turkey has again ratcheted up tension with Greece to near-conflict levels with threats over what it said was Greece putting American-supplied armored vehicles on Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast.
Turkey said that was violation of international treaties Turkey doesn’t recognize but cites to its advantage, warning there could be a response, that coming after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the United Nations attacked Greece.
The vehicles were allegedly sent to Lesbos and Samos, said Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah that’s a propaganda mouthpiece for Erdogan, who has become increasingly belligerent.
Those are two of the five islands where Turkey is letting human traffickers keep sending refugees and migrants in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
The paper, citing security force sources not identified, said Turkish drones flying near the islands detected movement that was determined to be landing craft delivering the armored vehicles.
Those were, the paper said, 23 tactical-wheeled armored vehicles to Lesbos and 18 tactical-wheeled armored vehicles to Samos, saying they had first been delivered to the northern Greek port of Alexandroupoli where the US Navy wants to create a second base in Greece.
Turkey had previously demanded that Greece remove troops from the islands, which would leave them open to an invasion that Erdogan has threatened, saying his forces may “come suddenly one night.”
Turkey and Greece are both members of NATO but the defense alliance has refused to intervene over Turkish violations of Greek airspace and made it clear it wants no part of the feud between them.
Turkey also is claiming parts of Greek waters under an agreement with Libya that no other country recognizes, said it would send energy research vessels near Greek islands, claimed that Greek missile defenses locked on to Turkish F-16s in a NATO mission and warned that it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles.