Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday in Ankara during a press conference with his counterpart from North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani that Greece’s claims that Ankara is pursuing an expansionist policy is a sign of its politicians’ “inferiority complex.”
“Hopefully Greece will come around and act in a principled manner,” he said whilst accusing Greece of violating international treaties and maligning Turkey’s international image and standing.
Greece is “talking against Turkey” and “lobbying in the United States against the delivery of the F-16” fighter jets and that “goes against NATO solidarity,” said Çavuşoğlu, going on to accuse Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias of urging Greek businesspeople not to invest in his country.
Çavuşoğlu also reiterated threats that Ankara is prepared to dispute Greek sovereignty of its eastern Aegean islands if it does not withdraw its military presence, saying that Ankara has sent two letters to the United Nations to that effect.
“As soon as they could not answer our questions legally, they became much more aggressive,” he said, accusing Greece of making “groundless accusations” that Ankara is pursuing an expansionist policy.
“Since they cannot answer our questions about the status of the islands they are opting for demagogic rhetoric,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“If Greece cannot answer to those letters we wrote to the United Nations stating that they are not arming those islands… then the sovereignty of those islands will be discussed,” he said.
Turkey's top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu lashed out at #Greece today, accused Greeks of having inferiority complex, crying out to drum up global support, and backstabbing Turks pic.twitter.com/58rlZLvIXn
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) June 7, 2022
The US Department of State said on June 1 that Ankara's challenge over the sovereignty of Greece's eastern Aegean islands are not under any question.
“Greece’s sovereignty over these islands is not in question,” it said in a statement.
“We urge our allies to avoid rhetoric that could further raise tensions,” is said, adding that Greece and Turkey are “strong partners and key NATO allies to the US.”
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and protected,” the State Department stressed.
The State Department's announcement also followed on from France, Germany and the European Commission.
Athens warned Ankara that it is reaching the limits of restraint and patience following a period of intense Turkish provocations, including overflights and demands to demilitarize Greek islands.
“We will do whatever it takes in order to defend and protect our full sovereign rights. We are getting dangerously close to our limits. Our limits of restraint and patience,” Greece’s Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told an international audience on Monday.
Speaking at the annual GLOBSEC security conference held in Bratislava, Slovakia, Panagiotopoulos expressed Greece’s frustration in dealing with the Turkish leadership, a supposed NATO ally.
“We feel strange having an ally that imposed a threat of war against us should we elect to exercise one of our legal rights under international law to extend our territorial waters beyond six miles. A threat of war from one ally against the other? I do not want to have allies like that,” he said.
He added that he does not want to have an ally that conducts forty plus overflights every day. “Not just incursions in our airspace, but overflights over inhabited areas. Sometimes overflights are taking place overnight. I wonder for what reason,” Panagiotopoulos inquired.
“It also feels peculiar to have an ally that calls for the demilitarisation of our islands, arguing what? That if they are not demilitarised they are up for grabs? From whom? Are we going to lose them to someone else?” he wondered.
“These are not only unacceptable situations but completely absurd,” Panagitopoulos said.
Greece is bracing for a prolonged period of tension with its neighbour following the recent visit of PM Kyriakos Mitotakis to the U.S..
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned up the heat with personal attacks against Mitsotakis, increased overflights over Greek islands, and boatloads of migrants sailing towards Greece.
READ MORE: Malnutrition in Turkey explodes as Erdoğan escalates war rhetoric against Greece.