'You will pay a heavy price' Erdogan warned Greece

Erdogan challenges Greece over airspace violation – Digital Journal

Erdogan warned Greece: “You will pay a high price” – Copyright AFP Ishara S. KODIKARA


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned Greece that it would pay a “high price” if it continued to harass Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean and hinted at military action.

The two restive NATO neighbors have long-standing maritime and air border disputes that have resulted in near-daily air force patrols and interception missions, mostly around the Greek islands off Turkey’s coastline.

“Hey Greece, look at history. If you go any further, you will pay a high price,” Erdogan said at a crowded rally in the Black Sea town of Samsun.

Greece and Turkey have a complex history dating back centuries to disputes over maritime boundaries and the division of Cyprus in 1974.

Turkey has complained in recent months about what it calls Athens’ provocative actions, saying such actions undermine peace efforts.

In one such incident, Ankara said that Greece used a Russian-made air defense system over the weekend to harass Turkish aircraft on a reconnaissance mission, in what it called “hostile activities.”

In his address, Erdogan accused Greece of “trying to threaten us with S-300s.”

Athens has denied the allegations and often accuses Ankara of overflying the Greek islands.

Turkey says Greece is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of peace treaties signed after the First and Second World Wars.

– “Don’t forget Izmir” –

An enraged Erdogan accused Greece of “occupying” the islands.

“We only have one word to say to Greece: don’t forget Izmir (Smyrna in Greek),” Erdogan said, referring to the end of the Greek occupation after Turkish troops entered the city on the Aegean coast in 1922.

“Your occupation of the islands does not bind us,” Erdogan said.

“When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. As we say, we may suddenly come one night,” using his oft-repeated words when he threatens to launch an operation in neighboring Syria.

In June, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara would challenge Greek sovereignty over the islands if it continued to send troops there.

The Aegean Sea has a complex geography with over 2,000 islands, most of which are Greek.

The two countries came to the brink of war in the 1990s over a pair of small, uninhabited islets collectively known as Cardak in Turkish and Imia in Greek.

Erdogan cut off dialogue with Greece after accusing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of lobbying against US arms sales to his country.

Mitsotakis “doesn’t exist anymore” for him, he protested in May.

Greece and Turkey also compete for US weapons.

In June, Greece formally filed a request for American-made F-35 fighter jets.

Turkey is in talks to buy F-16s after Washington excluded Ankara from the F-35 program for receiving Russia’s advanced missile defense system in 2019.

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