March 12, 2020
Ankara on Wednesday ramped up tensions with Greece on both land and sea, with Turkey’s special forces firing shots over a military vehicle stationed on the Greek side of the border at Evros, a pair of F-16 fighter jets violating Greece’s airspace over the northern part of the border, and a Turkish vessel ramming a Hellenic Coast Guard boat off the eastern Aegean island of Kos.
What’s more, Turkey issued a navigational telex reserving parts of the Aegean for large-scale military exercises.
In response, the Greek Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish Ambassador in Athens, Burak Ozugergin.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey’s “unacceptable and condemnable actions and deplorable statements” that came however “as no surprise.”
“They are a continuation of an escalation that sets Turkey not only beyond European limits, but also beyond any kind of European reasoning – limits and reasoning that Greece will continue to steadfastly defend with all available means,” it said.
Turkey’s escalation is seen in Athens as an obvious attempt to provoke an accident and came against the backdrop of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comment on the incident off Kos, that Greek vessels “will run away and we will chase them. That’s how it will be from now on.”
Erdogan also said there is “no difference” between Nazis and the Greek authorities trying to hold the country’s border against the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees spurred to push into the European Union by Ankara.
The head of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) David Harris lambasted Erdogan over the comments. “Turkish President Erdogan accused Greece of doing ‘what the Nazis did,’ citing border crisis he created. Do migrants in Turkey face Holocaust? Are they fleeing for their lives? If so, Erdogan should be held accountable. If not, he should visit Auschwitz and learn about real Nazis,” Harris said.