Greece is engaging in provocative and aggressive actions in the region, Turkey’s national defense minister said on Monday.
Hulusi Akar said that in contrast, Turkey carries out all its activities in a “reasonable, logical and calm manner.”
“While we are acting this way, Greece is engaging in actions and rhetoric that are provocative, aggressive, and raising tensions,” Akar said in a video conference meeting with top military officials.
Saying that Greek officials are trying to create a false perception that Turkey is moving against Greece, he added: "We are not in any way aggressive, we’re defending our rights.”
On the hundreds of asylum seekers pushed back by Greek authorities in recent months and years, he said attempting to pierce and shoot the boats of defenseless people in the middle of the sea is a “grave crime against humanity” and immoral.
Turkey and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
Underlining that the fight against terrorism in Syria and northern Iraq continues with determination despite difficult terrain and weather conditions, Akar said Turkey’s anti-terror efforts are being carried out in a manner that respects the rights and borders of neighboring countries.
"There is a serious collapse in the terrorist group” PKK, he said, adding that Turkey has “neutralized” – killed or captured – a total of 2,481 terrorists since the beginning of this year.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
The PKK terror group often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Turkey's southern border, to plot terror attacks in Turkey.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.