ATHENS – Greece’s rush to acquire more weapons and foreign allies against Turkey will do no good if battle breaks out and the Greek forces are overwhelmed, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said.
“Don’t look at who’s behind you, look who’s in front of you,” he said, addressing the panel titled ‘Turkish Foreign Policy in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean’ reported the Turkish newspaper The Daily Hurriyet.
He noted that Greece and Turkey had in 2021 resumed a 62nd round of so-called confidence building talks that brought no confidence and became no-progress chit-chats resolving no major differences.
He said that was because Greece “failed to show the necessary sincerity.” He said Turkey wanted diplomacy without noting constant Turkish provocations including violations of Greek airspace and plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands.
“We did not say that we would not meet with Greece, but the meeting should be meaningful,” he said, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has warned of an invasion, blamed Greece for the provocations and demanded the removal of troops from Greek islands in the Aegean near Turkey’s coast.
Turkish provocativeness continues and its absurdity has now become a “daily phenomenon,” said Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in joint statements on Monday with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides, after their meeting in Athens.
Dendias said Turkish provocativeness does not “intimidate Greece, which continues to defend the justice of its positions and internationally highlight the absurdity and illegality of Turkish demands,” while adding that “any regression from the Turkish side or attempt to create faits accomplis either in Greece or in Cyprus must meet with a European response.”
Çavuşoğlu said there was “aggression” from Greece because of Turkey’s “rising profile” internationally. “Greece’s lack of strategic vision” is another factor in this dispute, he added.
Greece is buying 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets and warships and also American warships while making a mutual defense pact with France and making allies of other countries as a buffer against Turkey.
Turkey is also upset that Greece renewed a military cooperation deal with the United States that will see more American military bases established and additional U.S. soldiers on Greek soil.
Çavuşoğlu said he didn’t buy the U.S. position that it’s being done over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Turkey refusing to abide by European Union sanctions on Moscow for starting the war and siding with Russian and Ukraine simultaneously.
“They say they are against Russia, but it is not convincing. The balance of the U.S. is broker,” Çavuşoğlu said, the report added, Turkey also angry that the United States lifted a decades-old arms embargo against the Greek-Cypriot government that’s a member of the EU.
While it’s been Turkey that’s threatening Greece with war and sending fighter jets into Greek airspace, Erdogan is blaming Greece for provocations he said won’t achieve anything.
“Greece needs to come to its senses. They must learn that provocation and instigation will not get them anywhere,” Erdoğan said during a joint live broadcast on the ATV and the Haber channels.
“It is not possible to explain or accept the stance Greece adopted lately toward Turkey. Of course, we cannot stay silent and unresponsive in the face of this hostile and aggressive stance,” he added.
He said his response is being shown with building more armaments after he cautioned Greece that Turkish forces might “come suddenly one night,” in a warning of his thoughts or intentions.
Erdoğan said that the domestic, short-range ballistic missile Tayfun was likely worrying Greece and that its distance would be increased to hit Greek targets if a conflict does break out.
“The range of 561 kilometers (348.56 miles) is to be extended further… Of course, these 561 kilometers started to frighten the Greeks because Athens is completely within its range, they gave a red alert.”