Erdogan continues radical rhetoric against Greece ahead of European Summit
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan decried Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday for seeking U.S. assistance amid tensions with Turkey.
"The Greek Prime Minister is seeking help from the U.S. against what? Against Turkey. Whatever you do, we will continue to do what is necessary. And we are ready to do that," Erdogan told a conference marking a religious week in Turkey's capital Ankara.
Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have long been at odds over a string of issues, including the status of the Aegean islands
Turkey accuses Greece for militarizing its islands and building American bases in violation of international treaties.
Turkey says despite the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris that require Greece’s eastern Aegean islands to remain demilitarized, Athens has armed 16 out of the 23 islands, in violation of international law. In response to Turkish claims, Greece says the restrictions no longer apply.
Erdogan last month said “Greece occupies the islands” and “"When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. As we say, all of a sudden, we can come overnight."
Erdogan’s remarks came a day after Greek officials said Mitsotakis would agree to meet with Erdogan on the sidelines of a European summit later this week if Turkey requested a meeting.
“If the Turkish president – who is the one to have fueled the tension with his statements – seeks a meeting with the Greek prime minister, the Greek side will… respond positively,” government spokesman Ioannis Oikonomou said on Monday.
However Erdogan said last year that Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him after Mitsotakis’ criticism of Turkey during a trip to the US.