Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed that his country doesn’t want a war with Greece but it is using the language its neighbor understands.
Ties between Türkiye and Greece have been strained for years over territorial conflicts in the east Mediterranean, but tensions have escalated in recent months over what Türkiye says is a Greek military buildup on Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast.
The Turkish president last month fueled tensions between the two by saying that “we might come suddenly one night.”
“You’ve understood it right, they should have taken the message as well,” Erdogan said in Prague when asked by a journalist if he meant an attack against Greece.
He stressed that Ankara does not want tensions with any of its neighbors and is fighting to protect its borders and interests.
“We don’t want tension with any party, but instead a solution within the legal framework,” Erdogan stated.
He said unarmed aerial vehicles and combat drones are in Northern Cyprus to protect it from all sides.
Erdogan was speaking to reporters on his way back from the first European Political Community Summit in Prague on Thursday.
Asked whether there is a plan to set up a Turkish military base in the northeastern Karpas peninsula in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Erdogan said Turkish drones may also be sent to the region.
“Because we need to secure Northern Cyprus from all sides, from all aspects. Whether it (the base) is (set up) or not, our jets will immediately be in Northern Cyprus as soon as they take off from our mainland,” he added.
Ankara threatened to boost defenses of the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island, two weeks after Washington lifted a decades-old arms embargo on the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government located in the south of the island.
“The United States, which overlooks and even encourages the steps by the Cypriot-Greek duo that threaten peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an armament race on the island with this step,” Erdogan said.
He affirmed that Türkiye already has 40,000 troops on the island, and it will reinforce them with land, naval and aerial weapons, ammunition and vehicles.
“Everyone must know that this last step will not go unresponded and that every precaution will be taken for the security of the Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan warned.
He said that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades insisted on meeting with him on the sidelines of the summit in Prague.
“Anastasiades insisted on a bilateral meeting…I responded by reminding him that his term ends in two months. In a situation like this, such an issue is not to be discussed,” Erdogan noted.