Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece on Saturday that it will pay a “high price” if it continues with what Ankara deems violations of Turkish airspace over the Aegean Sea.
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“Hey Greece, look at your history. If you go too far, the price will be high,” Erdogan said at a defense systems expo. He was referring to Turkish claims that Greece’s anti-aircraft defense had targeted some Turkish F-16s on missions over the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Under NATO rules, which include both countries, that would amount to “hostile action,” it said last week.
The Turkish aircraft were said to have been “harassed” by the Greek S-300 anti-aircraft defense system in Crete, according to the government-controlled Anadolu news agency, when in fact they were flying through international airspace. Athens rejects that claim.
Tensions between Greece and Turkey have been escalating recently over a series of disputes, with mutual accusations of violations of each other’s airspace being the most sensitive issue. Turkey also alleges that Greece is illegally arming its islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, which is prohibited under several treaties. Greece, on the other hand, says its soldiers must fend off ships coming from Turkey’s west coast.
“Your occupation of the islands is not binding on us. We will do what is necessary in due time. And as it is said, we can come suddenly, during the night,” Erdogan said on Saturday, without going into details.
In 2020, a military confrontation between Ankara and Athens was narrowly avoided. At the time, a dispute over drilling for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean was central.