ATHENS – Seeing an emboldened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepping up belligerent talk after breaking off communications with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s armed forces in the Eastern Aegean were put on high alert.
That came after the Greek leader said while he wanted to continue with failed diplomacy that has gone nowhere with Erdogan that he was ready to have the military defend Greece’s sovereignty if a conflict breaks out.
The New Democracy government, said Kathimerini, made the move as a precaution, anticipating more provocations during the summer, a period when the two countries typically back off so as not to disrupt tourism critical to bother.
Erdogan and Mitsotakis met in March in Turkey and agreed to a detente but the Turkish leader broke the deal almost immediately in continuing to send F-16’s to violate Greek airspace and say he would send an energy research vessel and warships off Greek islands to look for oil and gas yet again.
Erdogan is also incensed that Mitsotakis, in a visit to the United States, addressed the Congress and urged the lawmakers – without mentioning Turkey – to veto President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey more F-16’s and upgrade others.
Erdogan is also trying to portray Greece as wrongfully breaking international conventions and laws that Turkey doesn’t recognize unless invoking to its advantage and warned it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its mairitime boundaries from 6 to 12 miles, while demanding Greek troops be taken off Aegean islands.
Turkish Foreign Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened to challenge the sovereignty of the eastern Aegean islands if Athens does not demilitarize them and said Greece doesn’t respect its neighbors.
He cited North Macedonia, which he said Greece forced to change its name as a condition to join NATO although the deal was made by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and still gave away the name of the Greek province of Macedonia.
“How many years did the accession of Macedonia last? Eleven years. Why did it take 11 years? Because Greece asked Macedonia to change its name. It became North Macedonia. After that it was able to become a member of NATO and it took 11 years,” said Cavusoglu, inaccurately calling the country Macedonia.
“The conditions set by some EU member-states, especially regarding North Macedonia and the Macedonians, in order to get a date of negotiation and not accession, are not acceptable,” he said, adding that Turkey does not want countries to change their name or dictate what nationality they must be.
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