The Turkish president on Thursday called on Greece to stop the illegal militarization of “(Aegean) islands with non-military status” and to act “in line with international agreements.”
Speaking at a ceremony in Türkiye's Aegean province of Izmir during the EFES-2022 military exercise, one of the largest planned drills of the Turkish army, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "Greece is acting like it’s making touristic stops on Aegean islands,” and warned Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that such moves “will get you nowhere.”
“Some Greek politicians are trying to remain relevant with words and actions that are divorced from reality, contrary to logic and the law,” said Erdogan.
“Those who waste their country's resources, energies, and time with dreams that they can never afford will surely be held accountable before history,” he said, touching on Türkiye branding Athens’ arm buildup a waste of resource the Greeks can ill afford.
“On this occasion, we once again call on Greece to stop militarization of the (Aegean) islands with non-military status and to act in line with international agreements,” he said, underlining the point: “I'm not kidding, I'm serious.”
“Türkiye will not relinquish its rights in the Aegean Sea, nor will hesitate to use its powers stemming from international agreements,” he stressed.
On Greek moves in the Aegean, Erdogan warned Athens to refrain from “dreams and actions that will result in regret, just like a century ago” – referring to the 1919-1923 Turkish War of Independence, which pushed Greek forces out of Türkiye – and to “come to its senses.”
"Türkiye does not violate anyone's rights and laws, but neither does it allow the violation of its own rights and laws," Erdogan stressed.
Turks in Greece, energy exploration, terrorist corridors
Mentioning the pressing problems of the Turkish minority in Greece’s Western Thrace region, he criticized EU institutions for doing nothing about Greece violating European Court of Human Rights rulings, openly supporting terrorist groups, and inflicting all kinds of inhuman treatment on asylum seekers, even as such institutions cannot stop criticizing Turkey.
Greece’s Western Thrace region is home to some 150,000 Muslim Turks, whose rights to elect their own religious leaders, found Turkish associations, and have their own schools have been denied by Athens, in violation of European court orders.
Greece has also come under fire from human rights groups and others for mistreatment and abuse of asylum seekers.
Erdogan also said Türkiye would continue exploring for hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean in line with UN rules and other international practices.
On fighting the PKK/YPG terrorist group, Erdogan said Türkiye is gradually implementing its efforts to protect its southern border with Syria with a 30-kilometer (18-mile) safe zone.
"We will not allow the establishment of terror corridors at the bottom of our country's borders," he said.
Efes-2022, the largest joint exercise of the Turkish Armed Forces in the Aegean, was successfully completed Thursday after a ceremony attended by Erdogan, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahceli, and other high-level statesmen and officials.
Also attending the exercise were Libyan Prime Minister and Defense Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh, the defense ministers of Azerbaijan, Gambia, Cameroon, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo and Rwanda, and the chiefs of general staff of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Hungary and Pakistan.
The EFES-2022 military exercise, one of the largest planned drills of the Turkish army, this year gathered almost 10,000 personnel from 37 nations.