Erdogan hits back at Greek president's comments on sovereignty

TAGS: Turkey, Diplomacy, Defense

Using particularly strong language, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday hit back at recent comments by his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos condemning those questioning the sovereignty of Greek territory.

“Those who want to refresh their memory should look at their recent history,” he said, adding that “those who speak words that are too big for them should first read history books.” “Let them learn very well how they escaped being salted like fish in Sangarios, how they jumped into the sea to get away from here,” he said, referring to a Greek withdrawal after the 21-day Battle of Sangarios of August 1921, a key engagment in the Greco-Turkish war.

Erdogan’s speech appeared to be a reaction to Pavlopoulos’s dig last week at Ankara’s questioning the sovereignty of Greek islands in the Dodecanese.

“Over the duration of my term and beyond, I will do everything possible to defend the long history and the unquestionable Greekness of Nisyros and all the islands of the Dodecanese,” Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday during a visit to the island.

Pavlopoulos stressed that Greece wants good neighborly relations with Turkey and supports its bid to join the European Union but that Ankara must respect borders and international law. 

He also hit out against “those who harbour notions of ‘gray zones’ in the Aegean, or claim territory which does not belong to them, or question the full sovereignty of Greece in the Dodecanese” and stressed Greece’s right to bolster its defence against “any design” when that it is deemed necessary.