ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece on Saturday that it would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to “harass” Turkish planes over the Aegean.
“Hey, Greece, look at history.” “You will pay a high price if you go any farther,” Erdogan said at a rally in the Black Sea region.
Turkey has recently protested about Athens’ provocative tactics, claiming that they harm peace efforts.
Long-standing sea and air boundary disputes between the two NATO neighbors have resulted in near-daily air force patrols and interception operations, primarily around Greek islands near Turkey’s coastline.
Ankara is accused by Athens of overflying Greek islands.
Turkey claims Greece is stationing troops on Aegean Sea islands in breach of peace treaties made following World Wars I and II.
Erdogan, enraged, accused Greece of “occupying” the islands on Saturday.
“We have only one message for Greece: Do not forget Izmir (Smyrna in Greek),” Erdogan said, referring to the end of the Greek occupation of the Aegean city after Turkish soldiers entered it in 1922.
“Your occupation of the islands binds us not,” Erdogan remarked.
“When the time comes, we will do what is required.” “As we say, we may arrive unexpectedly one night,” he added, referencing terms he frequently used when discussing launching an incursion into neighboring Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in June that if Greece continued to send military to the islands, Ankara would contest its sovereignty over them.