ΑΝΚΑRA – It may just be a bluff full of bluster to crank up his nationalist base ahead of June elections and polls showing his ruling AKP party, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeated his warning that Greece could be invaded in a dispute over the seas.
He has beaten the war drum repeatedly in what has become a kind of invasion mantra to boost his standing, along with raising public workers salaries 25 percent and offering cheap mortgages to try to offset 80 percent inflation.
He said that Greece is fearful of Turkey’s home-grown short-range ballistic missiles and has insisted that Greek troops be taken off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he doesn’t recognize.
“We fired the Tayfun (Typhoon). How far is Tayfun’s range? 561 kilometers (349 miles.) What did the Greeks do? They got into flap. Newspapers immediately made headlines: ‘They will hit Athens.’ We don’t have such problem as long as you don’t mess with us in the Aegean,” he said, reported Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
“As long as you do not mess with us in the Aegean, we won’t mess with you,” Erdogan told a ceremony in the southern Antalya province.
Turkey test-fired the Tayfun missile (Tayfun) (Typhoon) in October, 2021 showing its capability to hit Athens in 7 minutes and 56 seconds and showcase its military strength.
“When you say ‘Tayfun,’ the Greek gets scared and say, ‘It will hit Athens.’ Well, of course it will,” he said.
“If you don’t stay calm, if you try to buy something (to arm yourself) from here and there, from America to the islands, a country like Turkey will not be a bystander. It has to do something,” Erdoğan added.
He praised his country’s growing domestic defense industry, saying every country “envies” the combat drone Bayraktar TB2 and unmanned fighter jet, Kizilelma. The drone is sold to other countries, including Ukraine, which uses them against the Russian invaders.
Turkey, like Greece, is a member of NATO but the defense alliance has refused to intervene over repeated Turkish violations of Greek airspace with fighter jets and Erdogan’s vow to sent energy research vessels and warships off Greek islands.
Turkey’s Vice-President Fuat Oktay added to the threats in an interview on a YouTube channel to express his dismay that the head of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA), Konstantinos Floros, visited the islands of the eastern Aegean.
“We see who comes and congratulates who, right? Yesterday, the mayor of Istanbul was congratulated by the mayor of Athens: ‘We are by your side, brother’. The ‘brotherhood’ between them is clear,” he said.
“Tell your brother who is with you to tell the Chief of the General Staff not to take pictures with Halicarnassus behind him,” he added, in reference to an ancient Greek city on the nearby Turkish mainland.
“Turkey does not allow such photos and is doing what it has to do. Turkey does not speak empty words, when it says ‘we will come suddenly’, if it says it, we will do it. Especially Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not speak to the public,” added Oktay.
He reminded that Turkey warned Greece in December 2022 that a missile could hit the Greek capital unless “you stay calm,” just in case Greece forgot apparently.
“Now we have started to make our own missiles,” Erdoğan said during a speech on Sunday in Samsun, in northern Turkey. “Of course, this production scares the Greeks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also warned Greece to stop militarizing the Aegean islands, otherwise Ankara “will take the necessary steps on the ground.”