On September 5th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved towards directly giving Greece ultimatums and threats.
He said that Athens should enter negotiations or “face the consequences.”
“They’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or in the field with painful experiences,” he said.
“They are going to understand that Turkey has the political, economic and military power to tear up the immoral maps and documents imposed,” Erdogan added, referring to areas marked by Greece and Cyprus as their economic maritime zones.
He said Turkey was “ready for every eventuality and result”.
Alongside his threats, reports surfaced with footage of Turkey delivering approximately 40 tanks towards the Evros River, along which the border with Greece runs.
Turkey deploys tanks to Greece border from Syrian border, Turkish private news agency İHA claims.
Approximately 40 tanks. pic.twitter.com/nnDrEegXsj
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) September 5, 2020
Reportedly, these tanks are there for deterrence, and not for any actual offensive actions.
The deployment was also allegedly planned long in advance, and is of no relation to the current deterioration of relations between Greece and Turkey.
According to Turkish state outlet Anadolu Agency, the transfer of the tanks was pre-planned by Turkey’s Second Army, based in the eastern province of Malatya.
As France is also involved in the conflict around Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, and even Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called French President Emmanuel Macron “hysterical” over his stance on the matters.
Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasized that Turkey had foiled French hope for Libyan National Army’s Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar to capture the Libyan capital of Tripoli by providing military support to the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), repelling Haftar’s assault back in June.
“In Libya they (France) supported the putschist Haftar and made a grave mistake,” he said, adding, “Things changed, balances shifted, Haftar was defeated and Macron became hysterical.”
Back in June, Turkey and France were involved in an incident when a French warship attempted to inspect a Turkish vessel as part of a UN arms embargo against Libya, and a Turkish warship protected the cargo vessel, which was more than likely actually breaching the embargo.
“With that hysteria, he didn’t know what to do. Right after that, he said our ships had harassed their ships in the eastern Mediterranean but couldn’t document this and was humiliated,” the Turkish minister said.
Cavusoglu also reiterated Ankara’s position that France was the country provoking Greece the most in the eastern Mediterranean conflict, calling on Paris to cooperate with Turkey to accomplish regional stability.
“There is no need for such hysterical behavior from France, it makes them look laughable. We are two NATO member countries.”
Turkey’s Foreign Minister also accused Greece of avoiding dialogue and lying after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis denied it had agreed to NATO-brokered talks aimed at de-escalating tensions in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Let threats go away so that the contacts can begin,” Mitsotakis said earlier on Friday, prompting Cavusoglu to accuse him of “lying,” saying, “Greece denied the secretary general’s (remarks) but the one lying here is not the NATO secretary general, it’s Greece itself. Greece showed once more than it’s not in favor of dialog.”
Earlier, on August 30th, Erdogan called the leaders of France and Greecy “greedy and incompetent” for challenging Ankara’s energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Do Greeks accept what could happen to them because of their greedy and incompetent leaders?” asked Erdogan. “Do the French know the price they will pay because of their greedy and incompetent leaders?”
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