ANKARA – Greek naval exercises in the Aegean Sea will see Turkey respond with submarine drills, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said, adding that Turkey won’t tolerate alleged violations of waters it disputes.
CNN Greece said that the Hellenic Navy would conduct the maneuvers under the code name Lightning on Jan. 18 in the waters that touch Turkey’s coast, further agitating Akar.
The site reported that the naval exercise will include frigates, missile boats, gunboats, submarines, aircraft and elite units of the army and scenarios for protecting energy installations and hydrocarbon mining platforms, as well as “attacks on enemy fleets and reclaiming seized territories.”
During his visit to a domestically made submarine under construction at the base of Submarine Command in the province of Kocaeli, Akar said “important, comprehensive missions” by the Turkish Navy is coming.
“We never let our rights be contravened and we will not let them be violated in the future, either,” he said, reported Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah that’s a mouthpiece for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The news report said that Lightning is “a response to Ankara’s provocations” and to demonstrate that any Turkish move in the sea dividing the two countries is “under the watchful eyes of the navy.”
Erdogan and Akar have demanded that Greece remove troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast, which would leave them open to an invasion the Turkish leader said could come “suddenly one night.”
Turkey also said that it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles in the Aegean – further cutting off Turkey’s coast – as Greece did in the Ionian Sea off its western coast.
“Don’t mess with us. We have no quarrel with you in the Aegean,” Erdoğan said at a public event last month. “They did some crazy things in the Aegean again. Of course, we also did what was necessary,” Erdoğan said, referring to claims – without evidence – that Greek planes trying to interfere in a NATO training mission conducted in international airspace over the Aegean Sea.
The President told officials to “do what is necessary … if Greece continues to act out,” repeating his warning: “We may come suddenly one night.”
Erdogan said Turkey’s recent ballistic missile test “scares” Greece. Turkey test-fired its domestically produced short-range ballistic missile Tayfun (Typhoon) in October. The missile could hit Athens in 456 seconds.