No let-up in Ankara’s rhetoric

No let-up in Ankara’s rhetoric

Keeping tensions high with Athens, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated on Monday that Ankara will “not accept any extension” by Greece of its islands’ territorial waters.

In other comments, Akar also stressed that he considers recent visits made by Greek officials to the islands near the Turkish coast as a provocation and blamed Greek politicians for the increased tension between the two countries.

“There are about 3,000 islands in the Aegean Sea. Of course, they don’t all belong to Greece. There are islands of disputed sovereignty. These islands, which are right under our noses, are visited by their ministers, officials, generals and admirals. Isn’t all this a provocation?” he asked during an interview with NTV.

“Several politicians and officials – in order to cover up, to obscure their domestic problems – are trying to increase tension with Turkey,” Akar added during a tour of the Turkish TCG Anadolu warship.

“Another deception of theirs is that they somehow present the problems between Turkey and Greece and turn them into Turkey-US, Turkey-NATO or Turkey-European Union problems,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the authoritative political analyst of Hurriyet newspaper Sedat Ergin wrote that there is strong concern in Ankara about Greece’s defense programs.

Egin said that in addition to the Rafale fighter jets, which Greece has started acquiring from France, it has already started the modernization of its F-16 fighter jets, before Turkey. He added that Ankara is concerned that if Turkey fails to start a similar program the balance of military power in the Aegean in the mid-2020s will shift in favor of Greece.

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