ΑΝΚΑRA – Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar doubled down on threats against Greece if it moves to double its maritime boundaries to 12 miles – as permitted by international law – off Crete.
Turkey wants to look for oil and gas off Greece’s biggest island under a deal it signed with Libya dividing the seas between them, which no other country recognizes and the United Nations didn’t accept.
“We will not accept anything other than the six nautical miles in Crete,” he said during a visit to the Turkish Naval Command, media reports said, telling a submarine captain to be ready for action.
“Important tasks await you in the coming period. There is no question of taking a single step back in the protection of our rights and interests in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus,” Akar reportedly said.
That was after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly warned that he could authorize an invasion of Greece – a fellow NATO ally – at any time and that Turkish forces could “come suddenly one night.”
While Turkey has been violating Greek airspace and making threats of war, he said that Greece is at fault for not wanting diplomacy to try to resolve differences over rights to the seas.
“We say that there can be consultations, negotiations on confidence and trust-building measures, as well as negotiations on separation procedures. Here we are waiting. They are not coming. However, they slander us with false and unsubstantiated claims,” he said.
As had Erdogan, gloating over Turkey defeating Greece in a war from 1919-22 that drove Greeks out of Asian Minor, Akar said: “Learn from history, do not get into trouble, do not enter into new adventures, do not waste the rights and interests of your own people for the rights and interests of other countries. And we are determined on that.”
He didn’t mention the defeat of Turkey and being driven out of Greece 100 years before that as history lesson.
Referring to claims that “Greece is preparing to take the decision to extend Crete’s territorial waters from 6 miles to 12 miles,” Akar said: “We will not accept more than six miles.”
As for Greek officials blaming Turkey for aggression and provocations he said that, “We, as Turkey, have not threatened anyone. We never threatened Greece. Turkey is a strong, reliable and effective ally.”
He didn’t explain why threatening to invade Greece wasn’t a threat and and said that, “A strong Turkey and a strong Air Force means a strong NATO and a strong alliance. We want everyone to know this,” he said.
He didn’t mention that Turkey undermined the defense alliance by buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems from NATO’s ideological enemy, which could be used against Greece in a conflict.
The spillover threat brought in Cyprus, where Turkey is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft European Union sanctions and where Turkish-Cypriots have since occupied the northern third of the island since unlawful Turkish invasions in 1974.
“We say in Greece, don’t miscalculate, don’t take wrong roads and learn from history. The wrong bill will be returned to you by Ankara,” he said in another threat after saying Turkey doesn’t issue threats.