Erdogan says Greece “occupies” the Aegean islands
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday targeted Greece over disputes between the two countries on the Aegean Sea and recalled a Turkish victory against the Greek forces invading the western part of the country after the first world war.
"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 a technology event where Turkey demonstrated its powerful unmanned aerial vehicles.
The city of Izmir was part of a region that Greek forces dominated for three years between 1919-1922, before leaving it to the Turkish nationalist army after a heavy defeat.
"When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. As we say, all of a sudden, we can come overnight," Erdogan said.
Erdogan frequently accuses Greece of violating the international agreement by arming its islands on the Aegean Sea but this time said the islands were “occupied” by Greece.
“Your occupation of the islands does not bind us,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan earlier claimed that Greece’s S300 missile defense systems acquired from Russia locked its radar systems to Turkish fighter planes, a “hostile act” according to NATO’s rules of engagement, but Greece denied allegations.
Meanwhile, A US State Department spokesman hclearly rejected Ankara’s analogies between the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems it has purchased from Russia, and the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that Greece has stored on the island of Crete, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.
“The acquisition of S-300 by Greece took place in the 1990s, decades before the adoption of the CAATSA law. Section 231 of CAATSA sanctions only significant transactions that occurred on or after August 2, 2017,” a State Department spokesperson said.
The Crete S-300 system was originally purchased by Cyprus in 1997, triggering a threat response from Turkey. Under pressure from Britain and NATO, Cyprus agreed to store it on the southern Greek island.