Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said the country will “never tolerate certain circles which violate our sovereignty in the Mediterranean and Aegean” — a thinly veiled reference to Greece and Cyprus.
Yildirim also referred to “pirates” in the Aegean and warned against what he called “chasing empty dreams of the Aegean and Cyprus”.
“Those who play at being pirates in the Aegean should not forget September 9, 1922,” he said, a reference to the Turkish army’s seizure of Smyrna.
It is the latest salvo in an ongoing war of words between Athens and Ankara regarding sovereignty in the Aegean Sea and conflict over Cyprus.
Earlier this weekend, Greece advised Turkey to “measure its words” about ownership of the Imia islets after Ankara claimed Imia’s sovereignty “is not ceded to Greece by international agreements”.
However, the Greek Foreign Ministry said: “The legal status of Imia is firmly established. Greek sovereignty over Imia is a given and beyond doubt.
“Turkey is mistaken if it thinks it can violate international law in the Aegean without consequences, as it does in other places in its environs.”
Relations between Athens and Ankara are at a particular low over repeated incidents in the Aegean and in Greek airspace, as well as the imprisonment of two Greek soldiers in Turkey for illegally crossing the border.
It has also emerged that a Turkish drone being used by the country’s armed forces in Syria will fly spy missions in the Aegean — a development likely to alarm a Greek government already warning international partners about Turkey’s activities in the region.