Greece slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for North Korea-style posturing after the latter threatened to fire missiles at the NATO ally.
Highlighting Turkey's ballistic missile Tayfun, Erdogan warned Athens against the alleged militarizing of the Aegean Islands. Erdogan, who has been belligerent in recent times, said a missile could hit the Greek capital unless "you stay calm".
Erdogan, during a speech in Samsun in northern Turkey on Sunday, said they have started to make their own missiles. "Of course, this production scares the Greeks. When you say 'Tayfun', the Greeks get scared and say 'It will hit Athens'. Well, of course it will," he said. "If you don't stay calm, if you try to buy something from here and there, from America to the islands, a country like Turkey will not be a bystander. It has to do something."
Tayfun: Short-Range Ballistic Missile
Tayfun is the Turkish word for "typhoon". It is a short-range missile system which Turkish officials worked covertly worked on for years. Tayfun was tested in a launch in October from the Black Sea town of Rize. The missile system was developed by Roketsan, a state-owned weapons manufacturer. The test launch showed that Tayfun was capable of hitting targets at a distance of more than 500km in 456 seconds.
Turkey-Greece Deteriorating Relations
Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads for quite some time over several issues. It includes competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, and the ethnically split island of Cyprus.
Nikos Dendias, the Greek Foreign Minister, highlighted Ankara's slide into aggressive posturing to the fall of 2019 when it signed a maritime border agreement with Libya. He said the Turkish leadership had made choices that leave no scope for negotiation. Relations with Greece deteriorated further after Erdogan said Mitsotakis no longer exists for him, when the Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis lobbied to block the sales of F-10 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the US. He had previously agreed with the Turkish President to not include third countries in their dispute.
Turkey believes Athens has illegally militarized the Greek islands in the eastern Aegean. As such, Ankara questions Greece's sovereignty over the islands. Furthermore, Erdogan also threatened to land Turkish troops in Greece suddenly one night. Hulusi Akar, Turkish Defense Minister, accused Greece of increasing tensions with unreasonable, illogical and unlawful demands and claims, as well as constant provocative actions and aggressive rhetoric.
Greece Says It's Unacceptable
The Greek government did not take Erdogan's threats lightly. Dendias said it is unacceptable and universally condemnable for threats of a missile attack against Greece to be made by an allied country, a NATO member. "North Korean attitudes cannot and must not enter the North Atlantic Alliance," the Greek Foreign Minister said.
Giannis Oikonomou, Greek government spokesperson, said Erdogan must know well that their country can be neither terrorized nor intimidated. "Erdogan thinks that as many times as he repeats the irrational and unjust, he can make it rational and just. That is not going to happen. Greece is absolutely determined, is always prepared, ready to defend international legality, to defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights."