ATHENS — It took a few days but Turkey has responded with outrage to Greece's 2.9-billion euro ($3.36 billion) agreement with France to buy three warships and an option on a fourth to build up an arsenal against Turkish provocations in the seas.
“Greece’s maximalist claims for jurisdiction over maritime areas and airspace are incompatible with international law. It is futile for Greece to dream that it can make us accept these claims – which are also questioned by the international community – by forging bilateral military alliances against Turkey, in a manner that harms the NATO alliance,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said, reported Kathimerini.
Both countries are members of the defense alliance which has refused to intervene over Turkey repeatedly violating the airspace and waters of Greece with fighter jets and warships, nearly bringing a conflict at times.
“Such futile efforts will only increase our determination to protect our rights as much as the rights of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ in the Aegean and the Mediterranean,” he said.
That was in reference to the occupied northern third of Cyprus seized by Turkey in two unlawful invasions in 1974, where Turkey still keeps a 35,000-strong standing army and is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.
“Instead of cooperation, Greece’s defense procurement policy and its efforts to isolate and alienate Turkey is a problematic policy that will do harm to it and the EU, of which it is a member, and is a threat to regional peace and stability,” Bilgic added.
He was talking about the European Union that Turkey as fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, prospects worsening under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's constant belligerence against Greece and Cyprus and ignoring soft sanctions.
A key part of the agreement that was especially irksome for Turkey is a mutual defense clause which calls for France and Greece to come to each other's aid if attacked, disguised to mean if Turkey gets into a military conflict with Greece.
After Greece and France briefed the EU’s Committee of Permanent Representatives on the details of the deal, the source said that it was also “a strategic partnership that enhances Greek-French ties, with absolute respect to their commitments to the EU and NATO. No one has claimed that such a partnership is incompatible with an alliance.”