TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “come down suddenly one night” on Greece by attacking Aegean islands that have had military bases set up.
The president’s warning on Saturday, in which he said Greece should “look at history” and see how “heavy the price” would be for alienating Ankara, is the most direct threat of war yet issued against Turkey’s neighbour — a fellow member of the US-led Nato alliance.
He spoke at an air show where the Turkish military displayed a prototype of a robot jet fighter which would fly without a pilot.
“You’re occupying the islands doesn’t bind us,” Mr Erdogan said. “When the time comes we’ll do what’s necessary — we may come down suddenly one night.”
Turkey says Greece is violating international agreements by militarising islands in the Aegean, whereas Greece says it needs to to deter Turkish aggression.
The countries have clashed over oil and mineral exploration rights in the Mediterranean and their air forces and navies have regular stand-offs.
“Don’t forget Izmir,” the president added, referring to a crushing Turkish defeat of the Greek military in the city, then known as Smyrna, in 1922. Turkey’s capture of the city, previously around half Greek by population, involved razing the Greek and Armenian quarters and massacring the inhabitants as part of the waves of ethnic cleansing which took place as Turkey emerged from the collapsing Ottoman empire.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in the 1970s and still protects an illegal Turkish satellite state ruling part of the island.