Turkey is aware of the “heavy cost” that any military engagement against Greece would involve due to the capabilities of Greece’s armed forces, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos was quoted in a newspaper interview published Friday.
“It is our capabilities that deter the other side from daring a military engagement, because they know the heavy cost that they would be forced to pay. Our armed forces are at all times vigilant, fully ready and decisive,” he told the Manifesto newspaper.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan “always provokes tension whenever he feels threatened or faces problems at home,” he said, noting that the Turkish president’s behavior served to strengthen arguments presented by Greece and to expose him to the international community.
Commenting on Erdogan’s announcement Wednesday that he told colleagues to no longer hold bilateral talks with Greece, Panagiotopoulos said: “We are not the ones that will cut off channels of communication but dialogue is not consistent with aggressive rhetoric and provocative behaviour.
“The Turkish president needs to understand that … will not cut corners in the defence of its sovereign rights.”
He also highlighted the importance of Greece’s presence in the European Union and of the EU’s support:
“If there was ever a time when Greece should feel safe and secure, it is this one. Greece should not worry, European countries were and are protected.”
Panagiotopoulos went on to express doubt whether a program to refit Turkish F-16 fighter jets would finally be approved by the United States, noting Washington’s refusal to sell Turkey F-35s. Everything would hinge on Turkey’s overall behavior, he said. [AMNA]