Greece warned Turkey that it is reaching the limits of restraint and patience following a period of intense Turkish provocations, including overflights and demands to demilitarize Greek islands.
“We will do whatever it takes in order to defend and protect our full sovereign rights. We are getting dangerously close to our limits. Our limits of restraint and patience,” Greece’s Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told an international audience on Monday.
Speaking at the annual GLOBSEC security conference held in Bratislava, Slovakia, Panagiotopoulos expressed Greece’s frustration in dealing with Turkey, a supposed NATO ally.
“We feel strange having an ally that imposed a threat of war against us should we elect to exercise one of our legal rights under international law to extend our territorial waters beyond six miles. A threat of war from one ally against the other? I do not want to have allies like that,” he said.
He added that he does not want to have an ally that conducts forty plus overflights every day. “Not just incursions in our airspace, but overflights over inhabited areas. Sometimes overflights are taking place overnight. I wonder for what reason,” Panagiotopoulos inquired.
“It also feels peculiar to have an ally that calls for the demilitarization of our islands, arguing what? That if they are not demilitarized they are up for grabs? From whom? Are we going to lose them to someone else?” he wondered.
“These are not only unacceptable situations but completely absurd,” Panagitopoulos said.
Μήνυμα ΥΠΕΘΑ Νίκου Παναγιωτόπουλου προς την Τουρκία: Φτάνουμε και εμείς επικίνδυνα στα όριά μας. pic.twitter.com/30jpKotQ1f
— Ομάδα Αλήθειας (@omadaalithias) June 6, 2022
Greece Braces for Summer of Tension with Turkey
Greece is bracing for a prolonged period of tension with Turkey following the recent visit of PM Kyriakos Mitotakis to the U.S..
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned up the heat with personal attacks against Mitsotakis, increased overflights over Greek islands, and boatloads of migrants sailing towards Greece.
Speaking in Davos in late May, Mitsotakis vowed to defend Greece amid Turkey’s mounting revisionism.
Responding to a question regarding Erdogan’s reaction and relations with Turkey, Mitsotakis said: “…we are [neighbors with Turkey], we always need to talk, and we always want to keep channels of communication open. We are never going to be the ones who will not talk with our [neighbors].”
However, the Greek PM also cautioned that “On the other hand, if President Erdogan thinks that I will not defend the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Greece and I will not make the case to the international audience that Turkey is behaving as a revisionist power, then he’s wrong.”