Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to use military force against Greece, if it does not change its stance regarding the status of the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean, escalating the rhetoric against Athens even further, on the final day of the Turkish EFES-2022 exercise, attended by 37 countries.
Despite the fact that the exercise (a landing one) itself did not create provocations, bar some routine violations, Erdogan used it as a platform to regurgitate the Turkish demand that Greece demilitarize its islands in the eastern Aegean, otherwise face “disaster.”
In a speech while observing the exercises off the Aegean coastal province of Izmir on Thursday, Erdogan said, “The effort to use islands with a non-military status in various exercises and the effort to instrumentalize NATO and third countries in this illegality has no meaning other than an effort that will end up in disaster.” Greece, he added, must “get a grip” and “avoid dreams, acts and statements that will result in regret,” and invoked Turkey’s independence war in the early 1920s when Turks defeated occupying powers, including Greece.
“Turkey will not renounce its rights in the Aegean and will not back down from using rights that are established by international agreements when it comes to arming islands,” he said.
Turkey will act, he said, in accordance with “our obligations arising from international treaties” and in line with “responsibilities arising from history and our culture.”
For his part, Greek government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou decried Turkey’s interpretation of treaties regarding the status of the eastern Aegean islands as “baseless myths that can neither challenge nor be a substitute for international law and international treaties.”
“In general, absolutely nothing and in no way can harm our sovereign rights and our national sovereignty. That is why we call on Turkey to stop its tactics of provocation and to realize that the only way is responsible and honest communication, in the context of international law and with absolute respect for sovereignty,” he said.