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Erdogan warns Greece to cease arming Aegean islands or face results 'it will regret'

June 12, 2022 at 4:01 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the High School Students Research Project Final Competition and Award Ceremony at Bestepe People’s Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkiye on June 2, 2022. [Mustafa Kamacı – Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Greece not to continue its militarisation of the Aegean islands, or else “they will regret” it.

In a series of tweets in the Greek language, Erdogan stated that “We once again warn Greece to be prudent, to stay away from dreams, rhetoric and actions that will lead it to results for which it will regret, as happened a century ago.” The results he mentioned referred to Turkiye’s victory over the invasion of its territory by Greece and their Western imperialist allies, following the collapse of the Ottoman empire after World War One.

Erdogan criticised Athens’s use of the European Union (EU) and the NATO alliance – the latter of which Ankara is part of – in backing it up in their regional disputes, saying that the Greek government should negotiate issues bilaterally.

“The attempt to instrumentalise NATO and third countries, involving them in the illegality of various military exercises on islands with a non-militarised regime, is just an attempt that will have a disastrous end,” he said.

Erdogan also accused Greece of violating the EU’s values and laws by persecuting its Muslims, stating that “despite being a member of the European Union, [Greece] continues to oppress the Turkish minority living in Western Thrace, Rhodes and Kos, ignoring the values of the Union, human rights worldwide and international agreements.”

The president then called out Athens for having “not even responded to our invitations for a meeting of military delegations” over the past two years, calling into question its sincerity in negotiations to resolve regional disputes.

READ: Turkiye’s Erdogan suspends talks with Greece amid rising tensions

Greece reacted to the president’s statement by first criticising his use of the Greek language, with government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou saying that it “is the language of logic, freedom and law. Its native users and the western world know this very well. The tactics chosen by Turkey do not fall into any of these versions.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis then called for national unity toward an “unpredictable” neighbour, saying of Erdogan that “the more he is isolated the more he gets angry.”

Over the past few years, Greece’s militarisation of some of its islands in the Aegean Sea was a key factor in the sabotaging of negotiations with Turkiye, especially while Ankara was conducting drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean to search for natural gas reserves and preserve its maritime rights.

Athens has so far refused to demilitarise the Aegean islands, insisting that it is protecting its national security interests. Ankara, however, cites international treaties and law in an effort to prove that the Greek moves are a direct threat to its own national security.

Previously, Turkiye’s foreign and defence ministers were the ones who issued such statements warning Greece against its activities, but the fact that Erdogan himself has stepped in to address the matter – especially in Greek – signifies that the dispute is growing ever more serious.

READ: Greek militarism in the East Aegean Islands disregards major treaty obligations