Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lashed out at Turkey for violating Greek and Cypriot airspace amid tensions between NATO and Russia over Ankara’s allegiances.
The Express says It comes after Turkish jets violated Greek national airspace 99 times and reiterated their desire to illegally drill for energy reserves in Cyprus’ exclusive waters. Mr Tsipras joined Brussels in defending his neighbouring country – but warned against starting a conflict in the region. The Greek Prime Minister took three days to echo Michel Barnier’s comments in the EU – but gave a stern response in the end as he urged vigilance.
He told Alpha TV: “Our neighbouring country faces internal tensions, while geopolitical developments are emerging in the region.
“I would like to assure the Greek people that Greece has very strong alliances and also an upgraded geostrategic role.
Moreover, the Greek armed forces are very competent.
“There is no reason for fear and uncertainty
Two Turkish F-16s reportedly entered the Athens Flight Information Region unexpectedly, raising alarms in the nation.
He added that Greece will remain vigilant and look out for a “hot incident” that may lead to regional conflict.
Cyprus has been a historical flashpoint of conflict between Athens and Ankara, with land and populace disputes stretching back decades.
Turkey has repeatedly violated Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone – an area where the state has special economic rights over.
Despite the US and European Union backing Cyprus in the dispute, President Erdogan has been stalwart in his desire to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots by continuing to drill there.
He said: “Nobody can tell us ‘why did you do this like this’ or ‘why did you do this’.
“To whoever asks ‘what business do you have here?’ we respond ‘Really? We are a guarantor power, and as such we will protect our rights until the end, wherever these may be, across our entire EEZ’.”
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will have the opportunity to raise the issue at the upcoming MED7 summit – where he will meet with the likes of France and Spain.
Despite the potential of Greece and Turkey clashing, NATO have not responded militarily to the presence of Turkish warships and drillships in the region.
Ankara is also locked in a diplomatic battle with Washington over their desired purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.
The US warned they would no longer supply their own F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if they continued buying missiles from Moscow – but the Turkish foreign minister hit back with threats of their own.