The foreign ministry in the Republic of Cyprus is accusing Turkey of hyping “rhetoric madness” following Ankara’s criticism towards Athens, as the two NATO allies continue to accuse each other of harassment.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, Nicosia was disappointed this week over Ankara’s “hyped rhetoric of madness” after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Greece of harassing Turkey.
Erdogan on Saturday warned that Greece would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to harass Turkish aircraft over the Aegean, a claim Athens has denied with the Greek capital citing rules of engagement against what Greeks see as airspace violations.
“Hey Greece, take a look at history. If you go further, you will pay a heavy price,” Erdogan said, adding “we have one thing to say to Greece, remember Izmir,” a clear historical reference to a failed invasion by Greeks in 1922.
Nicosia said it was “disappointed” over the comments, with a Cypriot foreign ministry statement saying Erdogan’s remarks were “unacceptable and insulting.”
'Hey Greece, take a look at history. If you go further, you will pay a heavy price' Erdogan said, while making a clear historical reference to a failed invasion by Greeks in 1922
"We condemn this hybrid conduct on the part of Turkey, which is contrary to international law but also broader attempt to build good neighborly relations that are necessary for creating conditions of security and prosperity in the Mediterranean region," the foreign ministry said.
Ankara and Athens have been accusing each other of airspace violations and harassment, with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias over the weekend briefing Brussels and Washington on the matter.
Kathimerini Greece reported that a Turkish unmanned aerial vehicle had violated Greek airspace on Monday afternoon over Kinaros island in the Aegean.
Turkey’s defense ministry is counter-alleging that Greece violated Turkish airspace and territorial waters over 1100 times between January and August this year.
But Greece says it views Ankara’s violations as a threat to its territorial integrity, with the two NATO allies arguing for decades over maritime and airspace boundaries and more recently the current status of certain islands.
Turkey has been accusing Greece of militarizing islands near the Turkish coast in violation of signed treaties, while Athens says it is acting preemptively in self-defense.
Ankara also accuses Athens of sponsoring terrorism, with Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu alleging on Monday that Greeks were training terrorists and Kurdish fighters at a refugee camp.
“Your occupying the islands does not bind us. When the time comes, we will do what is necessary,” Erdogan said during his public speech.
EU leaders and officials openly criticized Erdogan’s remarks, with European Commission foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano describing the Turkish president’s remarks as a “source of great concern.”
“The position of the EU has been and remains very clear. We expect Turkey to refrain from escalatory rhetoric and engage in promoting good-neighborly relations, not the opposite,” Stano said.