Turkish FM warns Greece to ‘back off’
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lambasted Greece once again on Tuesday, saying Ankara will do “what is necessary” if Athens does not “back off” and meet its demands to demilitarize the islands of the eastern Aegean, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.
Speaking in a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu in the capital Ankara, Cavusoglu called on Greece to abide by international law.
"Either Greece takes a step back and abides by agreements, or we will do what is necessary" he said, referring to Greece's recent military drill on Aegean islands.
Also, criticizing Greece for militarizing Aegean islands close to the Turkish coastline that were demilitarized under longstanding treaties, Cavusoglu said: "If Athens doesn’t want peace, Ankara will do whatever is necessary."
Urging Greece to stop arming Aegean islands Cavusoglu said: "Greece continues its provocations. We cannot keep quiet about it."
Recently, Greece carried out a military drill on the Aegean island of Rhodes, 84 kilometers from the Turkish coastal town of Fethiye.
Turkey and Greece, both NATO allies, have long been at odds over a string of issues, including territorial claims over the Mediterranean and the Aegean.
The tensions between Ankara and Athens have built up lately over the status of the Aegean islands, where Turkey blames Greece for “illegally” militarizing them in violation of international treaties.
Turkey says the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris require Greece’s eastern Aegean islands to remain demilitarized. In response to Turkish claims, Greece says the restrictions no longer apply.