There was no letup in Turkey’s incendiary rhetoric and violations in the Aegean last Friday, with unmanned aerial vehicles flying above Kandelioussa, west of Nisyros, which is one of the islands whose sovereignty Ankara has challenged due to its “indefinite ownership.”
At the same time Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed Greece’s determination to defend its rights.
“We are determined to defend our interests based on international law, the law of the sea and the Charter of the United Nations,” Dendias said in Belgrade on Friday, after talks with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic, who expressed Serbia’s support to Greece.
“The Republic of Serbia remains fully consistent in supporting Greece’s territorial integrity, both on land and at sea, under international law, including the law of the sea,” he said.
Greece’s determination was also expressed by Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, who said that Turkey has not dared to challenge Greece militarily because it would have consequences.
“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, adding that Erdogan “always provokes tension whenever he feels threatened or faces problems at home.” He also noted that Erdogan’s behavior has given credence to Greece’s arguments and is exposing him to the international community.
Nonetheless, the overflights continued on Friday, with a Turkish UAV passing twice over Kandelioussa.
The two overflights were identified and intercepted, in accordance with international rules. Overflights above Kandelioussa also occurred in May, February and January.
Meanwhile, in the latest incendiary rhetoric out of Ankara, Omer Celik, a spokesman for President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, said that Greece’s islands must be demilitarized in line with past treaties.
“As soon as you militarize it, you change the status of the islands,” said Celik.
He accused Greece of “aggressive propaganda” while the Turkish media also took issue with Greek “provocations,” citing the visit on Thursday by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the islands of Pserimos, Kos and Astypalaia.
Apart from Kandelioussa, Turkey also includes Pserimos among the 16 islands whose sovereignty it is questioning.