Erdoğan warns Greece over Aegean airspace violations

Erdoğan warns Greece over Aegean airspace violations

Erdoğan warns Greece over Aegean airspace violations

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 3 warned Greece that it would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to “harass” Turkish planes over the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.

“Hey Greece, take a look at history. If you go further, you will pay a heavy price,” Erdoğan told at Teknofest in the Black Sea province of Samsun.

Türkiye has complained of provocative actions by Athens in recent months, saying such moves undermine peace efforts.

Türkiye says Greece is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of peace treaties signed after World Wars I and II.

Erdoğan accused Greece of occupying the islands.

“We have only one word to tell Greece: Do not forget Izmir [Smyrna in Greek],” Erdoğan said, referring to the end of the Greek occupation after Turkish forces entered the city on the Aegean coast in 1922.

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

“When the time comes, we will do what’s necessary. As we say, we may come suddenly one night,” he added.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said the Greek warplanes scrambled to harass the Turkish F-16s on Aug. 22 and 24 by locking their radars on to them. The incidents took place while the Turkish jets were escorting the American warplanes and other allied airplanes on these dates, the ministry cited.

On Aug. 23, the Crete-based S-300 air defense system of Greece locked on to the Turkish F-16s, the ministry announced, calling the move “hostile” and inconsistent with the spirit of the NATO alliance. Greece has been deploying the Russian systems in Crete since 1999. The original buyer of these weapons was Greek Cyprus, but it could not deploy them as a result of the harsh reaction from Türkiye in the late 1990s.

Ankara and Athens are at odds over the Aegean and Mediterranean where they are in dispute over overlapping sovereign areas in the air and on the sea. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had initiated a deconfliction mechanism for Türkiye and Greece at NATO but the latter suspended the meetings.

Elaborating on the development of the Turkish defense industry, Erdoğan said Türkiye’s drones represent the country with pride in over 30 countries in the world. “We now produce almost all the equipment and munition integrated with these vehicles,” he said.

Noting that 20 percent of the defense industry in Türkiye was indigenous and national when the administration came into power, Erdoğan said: “Today, our defense industry is 80 percent indigenous and national. We have realized our goals for 2023. Dear youth, inshallah, you will further advance Türkiye in line with our visions for 2053 and 2071.”

“The Teknofest has become a festival, where 154,000 teams with 600,000 members from 81 provinces in Türkiye and also from 107 countries compete in 40 different branches,” Erdoğan noted. “It is truly a mental revolution that a technology event is embraced to such an extent, especially by the youth.”