Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan bitterly denounced the May 16 trip by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Washington. Declaring that Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, Erdoğan made clear that he viewed the trip by Mitsotakis as a breach of trust with far-reaching implications for the NATO alliance.
Erdoğan denounced Mitsotakis for involving the United States in Greece’s conflict with Turkey in the Aegean Sea. “We had agreed with him not to include third countries in our dispute.
Despite this, he visited the US and spoke to the Congress, warning them not to give F-16 [fighter jets] to us,” Erdoğan said. He also accused Greece of harboring supporters of the failed NATO-backed military coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 that nearly succeeded in assassinating Erdoğan.
Erdoğan also let it be known that he viewed the US building of NATO bases in Greece, targeting Russia and growing Chinese economic influence in the region, as a threat to his government. He said: “And most importantly there are nearly 10 bases in Greece. Whom does Greece threaten with those bases? Or why are these bases being created in Greece?”
As he threatens to veto US-backed plans for Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance against Russia, Erdoğan has repeatedly denounced NATO bases in Greece and stated that Turkey’s decision not to veto Greece’s return to NATO’s unified military command was a mistake.
Last Thursday, he said: “What happened when [Greece] went back? For example, America has now established a base in Alexandroupoli,” a Greek city near the border with Turkey.
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The visit of Mitsotakis to Washington undoubtedly placed significant military and strategic pressure on the Turkish government. Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter that his meeting with Biden “demonstrated how Greece/US relations are at an all-time high—in trade, investment, and defense.”
He also said that “we will launch the process for the acquisition of a squadron of F-35 aircraft. And we do hope to be able to add this fantastic plane to the Greek air force before the end of this decade.”
Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program by the United States following its purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia after the NATO-backed 2016 coup failed.
The rising Greek-Turkish conflict and tensions inside NATO go hand-in-hand with a dangerous escalation in the Aegean Sea. Greece’s Kathimerini reported on “a large-scale Greek naval exercise, Storm 2022, which is currently underway and will be completed on May 27,” amid mutual allegations of airspace violations between Greece and Turkey.
It wrote that Turkey sent a message with “two F-16s fighter jets that violated Greek airspace, reaching just two 2.5 nautical miles from the northern port city of Alexandroupoli.”
Turkey claimed Greece violated its airspace twice this week, and that it replied to those violations Friday “based on reciprocity and in accordance with” Turkish Air Force’s rules of engagement. Source: WSWS...