ANKARA – Apparently emboldened by the European Union not imposing sanctions, Turkey went after Greece more intensely, sending fighter jets into Greek airspace, having a Turkish Coast Guard vessel ram a Greek boat and keeping refugees and migrants at the land border.
Turkish Special Forces also were said to have fired shots over a military vehicle stationed on the Greek side of the border at the Evros River and Turkey issued a navigational telex (NAVTEX) reserving large parts of the Aegean for large-scale naval exercises off Kos.
The Greek Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish Ambassador in Athens, Burak Ozugergin and then issued a statement condemning what it called Turkey’s “unacceptable and condemnable actions and deplorable statements” that came however “as no surprise.”
“They are a continuation of an escalation that sets Turkey not only beyond European limits, but also beyond any kind of European reasoning – limits and reasoning that Greece will continue to steadfastly defend with all available means,” it said.
The escalation was seen as Turkey likely trying to create a “hot incident” to provoke a conflict or water as Erdogan has long said he covets the return of islands off Turkey’s coat ceded to Greece in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he won’t recognize.
After a video showed the Turkish Coast Guard vessel smashing the rear of a Greek Coast Guard vessel – also off the island of Kos – Erdogan said that Greek boats “will run away and we will chase them. That’s how it will be from now on.”
Erdogan also said there is “no difference” between Nazis and the Greek authorities trying to hold the country’s border against the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees spurred to push into the EU by Turkey.
That led to the head of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) David Harris to rip the Turkish leader. “Erdogan accused Greece of doing ‘what the Nazis did,’ citing border crisis he created. Do migrants in Turkey face Holocaust? Are they fleeing for their lives? If so, Erdogan should be held accountable. If not, he should visit Auschwitz and learn about real Nazis,” Harris said.