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Turkish defense minister makes fresh accusations against Greece, Cyprus

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Turkey has “problems” in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean because of Greece and Cyprus’ “expansionist-minded policies and claims,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has told lawmakers in Ankara.

Speaking at the Grand National Assembly during a debate on the Defense Ministry budget on Monday, Akar said these policies and claims, “include weapons procurement programs and the forging of so-called alliances, as well as aggressive actions and aggressive rhetoric.”

Akar went on to specifically accuse Greece of defying Ankara’s “invitations for well-intentioned dialogue” and being in violation of the Treaty of Lausanne with “all manner of injustices and illegal activities.” These, he added, “are being answered on the table and in the field within the limits reciprocity.”

He also referred to Turkey’s controversial procurement of Russian missiles, saying that “work will continue” on the deployment of the S-400 system. His comment is seen as an indication that Ankara is not planning to back down despite strong objections from Washington and NATO and the threat of additional sanctions.

The Turkish defense minister also pointed to some uncertainty with regards to Washington’s response to Ankara’s request to purchase of F-16 Viper jets and upgrade other aircraft in its fleet. 

“We believe the United States has a positive stance on the issue. We are watching developments closely. However, in the event of a negative stance, we – as is natural and necessary given the hostile environment we are in – will be forced to explore other alternatives,” Akar said.