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Tension rises as Turkey, Greece voice festering grievances

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ISTANBUL — Troubled relations between regional rivals Turkey and Greece worsened Tuesday, with Turkey’s president doubling down on a thinly veiled invasion risk and Athens responding that it’s able to defend its sovereignty.

Turkey and Greece have decades-old disputes over an array of points, together with territorial claims within the Aegean Sea and disagreements over the airspace there. The friction between the neighbors has introduced the NATO allies to the brink of struggle 3 times within the final half-century.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned Turkey may “come abruptly one evening” in response to perceived Greek threats, suggesting a Turkish assault on its neighbor can’t be dominated out.

Questioned about his earlier use of the phrase over the weekend and the potential of Turkish navy motion, Erdogan reiterated the expression.

“What I’m speaking about shouldn’t be a dream,” he mentioned at a information convention within the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. “If what I mentioned was that we may come one evening abruptly (it means) that, when the time comes, we will come instantly one evening.”

Greek International Minister Nikos Dendias mentioned that for days Turkish officers have been making “outrageous feedback” in opposition to Greece, together with Erdogan’s remarks that he mentioned prompt Turkey “may invade” the Greek islands.

“I might advise anyone who desires of assaults and conquest to think about three or 4 occasions,” he mentioned after talks in Athens with French International Minister Catherine Colonna. “We’re ready to defend our nation, our independence and territorial integrity.”

Ankara says Greece is violating worldwide agreements by militarizing islands near Turkey’s Aegean shoreline. It has additionally accused Greek air defenses of locking on to Turkish fighter jets throughout NATO workouts over the jap Mediterranean.

Dendias mentioned Greece must defend its jap Aegean Sea islands — together with vacationer hotspots Rhodes and Kos, that are a lot nearer to Turkey than to the Greek mainland — in opposition to its bigger and militarily stronger neighbor.

“The Turkish facet maintains that these islands are underneath Greek occupation,” he mentioned. “Let me level out that reverse the Aegean islands is stationed the most important touchdown fleet in Europe and a full Turkish military group,” he mentioned.

He additionally accused Turkey’s navy of repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters.

“This yr there have been 6,100 violations of our airspace, 157 overflights of Greek territory and 1,000 violations of our territorial waters,” he mentioned.

Greece nearly day by day scrambles fighter plane to establish and intercept Turkish navy planes and infrequently simulated dogfights escape, which have led to a number of fatalities prior to now a long time.

Erdogan was no much less adamant. “There are some illegitimate threats in opposition to us and if these illegitimate threats proceed there’s an finish to at least one’s endurance,” he mentioned.

“When the time is due, essential motion might be taken as a result of it isn’t a very good signal to lock on radars to our planes. Such issues executed by Greece are usually not a very good signal.”

Erdogan has beforehand mentioned Turkish forces can “come abruptly one evening” when threatening navy motion in opposition to Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq. Turkey has performed a number of navy operations in opposition to the militants lately.

He first used the phrase in connection to Greece at an aerial know-how pageant on Saturday.

Erdogan faces elections subsequent yr, as does Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and growing rhetoric in opposition to Greece would rally his nationalist base amid Turkey’s economic troubles.

Nicholas Paphitis in Athens, Greece, contributed.



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