Turkey’s patience with Greece ‘wearing thin’ – Erdogan
Greece is using islands in the Aegean Sea to harass Turkish military aircraft, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, adding that Ankara would not tolerate such behavior indefinitely.
“When the time comes,” Turkey might “come suddenly one night” and retaliate, Erdogan said at a joint press conference with the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina during his visit to the Balkan country.
Erdogan said it was “not a good sign” that Greek radars were locking on Turkish aircraft, blasting such behavior of Athens as “threatening.” He also accused Greece of using its military bases on the islands in the Aegean Sea to threaten Ankara. “If such illegitimate threats against us continue from there, [our] patience will end,” the president added.
“When the time comes, necessary actions will be taken,” Erdogan said. He did not elaborate on what exact actions Turkey plans to take, however.
His words came as the Turkish Foreign Ministry sent a letter to 25 EU members, as well as the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in which it outlined the Turkish position on the tense situation in the Aegean Sea.
The letter, which was also addressed to the permanent members of the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, accused Athens of violating the non-military status of the Eastern Aegean Island and of other “unlawful actions,” Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkey also accused Greece of making “maximalist demands,” in particular by claiming 10 nautical miles of airspace despite its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea only covering an area of 6 nautical miles from any given island, Ankara argues.
Athens, meanwhile, blasted what it called the “outrageous daily slide” of threats made by Ankara. Its Foreign Ministry also vowed to raise the issue of Turkish statements with NATO as well.
Turkey accused Greece in late August of locking its Russian-made S-300 air defenses on to two Turkish jets on a routine flight above neutral waters. Greek military sources denied the incident.