President Erdogan cautions Athens against going too far and says Türkiye will do what is necessary when the time comes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Greece that it will have to pay a heavy price if it goes "too far", a remark that comes at a time when tensions are running high over what Ankara describes as provocations by Athens.
"Greece, look at history, go back in time; if you go too far, the price will be heavy. We have one thing to say to Greece: Remember Izmir," Erdogan said at Teknofest, Türkiye's largest technology event, on Saturday.
Izmir is a province on Türkiye's western Aegean Sea coast that the Turkish army liberated from Greek occupation in 1922 during its War of Independence.
Speaking at the event in Samsun province on the Black Sea coast, Erdogan added that Athens' "occupation" of Aegean Sea islands "is not our concern". "When the time comes, we will do what is necessary," he said.
Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by neighbour Greece in the region in recent months, saying such moves frustrate its good faith efforts for peace.
Türkiye’s President Erdogan warned Greece it would pay a "heavy price" if it continued to "harass" Turkish planes over the Aegean. “Take a look at your history,” he added, referring to the resounding defeat of the occupying Greek armies in 1922 during the Greco-Turkish war pic.twitter.com/0uWwskGOh3— TRT World (@trtworld) September 3, 2022
Tensions running high
Turkish jets engaged in NATO missions over the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean Seas on August 23 were harassed by a Russian-made S-300 air defence system stationed on the Greek island of Crete.
Greek military officials have denied the Turkish account of the actions, which are described as “hostile” in the NATO Rules of Engagement.
Since the beginning of 2022, Greek warplanes have violated Turkish airspace 256 times and harassed Turkish jets 158 times. Greek coast guard boats also violated Turkish territorial waters 33 times.
A deleted tweet earlier this week on the occasion of Türkiye's 100th Victory Day added to the tensions.
NATO’s land command, LANDCOM, shared on Tuesday a post to mark the special day that commemorates the resounding defeat of the occupying Greek armies at the hands of Turks in the Battle of Dumlupinar in 1922.
LANDCOM deleted it after Greece lodged a complaint with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
LANDCOM tweeted on Thursday a new post to congratulate Türkiye on the occasion of the Victory Day, saying: "We are thankful to have Türkiye as our host nation."
Türkiye criticised NATO for deleting the tweet, calling it "unacceptable" and saying that the alliance "has greatly discredited its corporate identity and prestige" by deleting the tweet upon a "baseless request" by Greece.