Tension over the Aegean continued for a second day on Wednesday as Turkish F-16 fighter jets conducted 12 overflights over the islets of Oinousses, Panagia and Ro.
At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the expediting of all that is foreseen in the Ankara-Tripoli maritime border deal, which violates Greek sovereignty and has been condemned by the European Union.
“We will speed up the process between Turkey and Libya. We told them that we are always ready to help if they need it. From military and security cooperation to steps taken regarding our maritime rights: We are ready,” Erdogan told reporters in Geneva after an event organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
He made his remarks just hours after Turkish Prime Minister Fuat Oktay said Ankara could send forces to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan also referred to Ankara sending an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus on Monday, noting that “we are in the process of increasing their numbers if necessary.”
Moreover, in what could stoke tensions even further with Athens and Nicosia, a report in the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper said that Ankara is mulling the possibility of using an airport in northern Cyprus as a base for F-16 fighter jets “if necessary.”
In response to the latest charged rhetoric, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias commented on Wednesday from Abu Dhabi that “Turkey has become accustomed to launching threats lately.”
“With threats and such behavior, you prove to the international community something we wish were not true, that Turkey is the troublemaker of this region,” he said, adding that “Turkey is making a major mistake if it thinks that this behavior can bring benefits to it.”
“I think it has followed a path that does not lead to a happy outcome,” he said.