Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan again threatened Greece on Thursday, provocatively saying it should stop arming islands in the Aegean Sea that have a demilitarised status.
The threats came shortly after Greece’s foreign ministry issued 16 maps which it said “depict, in a vivid and unequivocal way, Turkey’s illegal, unilateral actions and allegations.”
Both countries have sent the United Nations letters outlining their rival positions on airspace and the islands.
Greek government spokesman Giannis Economou, asked about the risks of a possible armed clash, told reporters on Thursday that Athens was handling “a crescendo of inflammatory Turkish statements” with composure.
The NATO allies have long been at odds over issues such as maritime boundaries and claims over their respective continental shelves in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as airspace, migrants and Cyprus divided since 1974 after a Turkish invasion.
Tensions have flared again recently over the Aegean islands, which Ankara claims they cannot be armed under the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris treaties.
In a speech while observing Turkish military exercises near the Aegean coastal province of Izmir, Erdogan called on Athens to “avoid dreams, acts and statements that will result in regret”.
He then invoked Turkey’s independence war in the early 1920s when Turks defeated occupying powers, including Greece.
“Turkey will not renounce its rights in the Aegean and will not back down from using rights that are established by international agreements when it comes to arming islands,” Erdogan said.
Last week Erdogan announced Turkey was halting all bilateral talks with Greece over a row with the Greek prime minister, and what Ankara calls airspace violations.
The two had resumed bilateral talks in 2021 on improving ties after a five-year hiatus but have made little progress.