ANKARA – Keeping up a drumbeat demanding Greece demilitarize islands near its coast, Turkey blasted Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias for touring several of them and even had a radio warning sent to his helicopter.
He was flying in the easter Aegean when Turkish forces warne he was flying in what was supposed to be a demilitarized zone and said the helicopter should veer off and chance direction, said Kathimerini.
“The tour of three to five islands by helicopter does not benefit the Greek people and is not an example of political or military intelligence,” Turkish military sources were quoted as saying by the Anadolu news agency.
“With the hostile attitude it shows, Greece will be faced with disappointing results, as in the past,” the sources reportedly said, saying troops can’t be kept on the islands under the 1923 Treaty 0f Lausanne – which Turkey doesn’t recognize – and the 1974 Treaty of Paris.
That claim has, instead of getting support for Turkey, seen the United States and European Union – to which Greece belongs – backing the Greek side, especially with occasional fears of a conflict that would leave the Greek islands near Turkey’s coast defenseless for a takeover.
It took the EU a while to back up Greece, however, the bloc’s leaders reluctant to tangle with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose tough talk has made them back down before, especially his threat to send more refugees and migrants through Greece and its islands.
Turkey is continuing provocations though, sending more drones into Greek airspace along with fighter jets and stepping up aggressions while also offering diplomacy – on its own terms.
US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt re-affirmed US solidarity with Greece against Turkish claims.
“As we discussed our shared goals for regional stability,” Pyatt tweeted after a meeting with Dendias at the ministry in Athens, “I affirmed what Washington has made clear: The sovereignty of Greece over its islands is not in question,” he said.