Athens says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “playing with fire” as he seeks parliament approval to send military troops into Libya, following a formal request from Tripoli.
According to Kathimerini Greece, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis has warned that the Turkish president Recep was “playing with fire" and would be further isolated.
The Greek minister made the comments after Erdogan announced plans to send Turkish troops to Libya at the request of the administration in Tripoli.
Libya’s internationally recognized government has formally requested from Turkey “air, ground and sea” military support to fend off an offensive by militia on the capital Tripoli, according to Libyan officials.
'Reaction to this neo-Ottoman expansionism is strong and comes from everywhere. Erdogan is playing with fire...' said Varvitsiotis
Erdogan had previously made it known that his country would send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli. He is reportedly pushing for legislation through the Turkish parliament to accomplish that goal as soon as next month.
The Turkish move comes at a time of high tensions in the region, both within war-torn Libya but also on the diplomatic front across the eastern Mediterranean.
The Government of National Accord in Libya, led by Fayez al Sarraj, is said to be facing frustration from Libyans due to economic problems, with foreign reports saying military staff working for GNA do not get paid on time.
But the transitional government is also facing bigger threats by militia and eastern forces within Libya, as Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is challenging Tripoli’s government and could be gaining influence over unpaid GNA forces.
Haftar, who opposes a Turkey-Libya maritime border deal, was visited recently by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who made the trip to Benghazi some 400 miles east of the capital city.
Erdogan has vowed to support GNA after Turkey's parliament already ratified a controversial security and military cooperation deal with the Libyan government.
Greece cries foul over deal
But the deal, which includes a maritime border accord, violates international laws according to Greece. Last month, Athens expelled the Libyan ambassador over the agreement, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to raise the issue with the US during a White House visit in early January.
According to Kathimerini, Varvitsiotis said “Greece is bringing to the international attention the issue of Turkish provocations, targeting the maintenance of security and stability in the region.”
"Reaction to this neo-Ottoman expansionism is strong and comes from everywhere. Erdogan is playing with fire and generates reaction not only from Greece but also from all players in the international system," said Varvitsiotis.