Turkey and Greece exchanged warnings about their dispute over islands in the Aegean Sea, while Washington called on the two countries for dialogue and de-escalation, stressing their importance in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country is ready to take non-diplomatic ways if Greece continues to plot conspiracies against his country, as he put it.
In new statements, Erdogan said that the weapons deployed by Greece in the “Western Thrace” region and the islands do not mean anything to his country. Erdogan added that this means a secret occupation by Greece in this region.
On Monday, the Turkish president condemned Greece’s “provocations” in the Aegean, after a Greek military deployment on two islands in the sea.
Erdogan said that Turkey “is following with astonishment the policies of its neighbor Greece, which smells of provocation.” “Greece’s provocations are a dangerous game for it,” he added.
“We will not relent, if necessary, in defending the rights and interests of our country against Greece by all available means,” he added.
For its part, Athens rejects “Ankara’s objections,” stressing that “they are unfounded and contrary to international law,” according to a Greek diplomatic source.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greece will remain calm and confident of positions backed by international law, and not follow the path chosen by its neighbor Turkey,
He warned Ankara that it is facing not only Athens, but Europe and NATO allies.
Meanwhile, the United States urged the two sides to maintain peace and security in the Aegean, and to resolve differences diplomatically.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon called on Turkey and Greece for dialogue and de-escalation, stressing the importance of the two countries in NATO.
In response to a question by Anadolu Agency, Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said that Greece and Turkey are important allies of NATO, calling on Ankara and Athens for dialogue in order to reduce any possible escalation.
On the United States’ position on Turkish criticism of Washington’s increasing tension in the region, Ryder said, “In terms of our bilateral relations, Turkey is a very important NATO ally.”
“We will continue to work closely with our NATO allies, including Turkey, and of course, I invite you to pose this question to the State Department to get an official answer on this,” he added.
Earlier, the US State Department spokesman said in press statements that the time was not appropriate to escalate tension between NATO partners, after Greece armed the demilitarized islands of Mudallali and Sisa in the Aegean Sea.