Turkey’s defense minister Hulusi Akar, has warned Greece over the disputed territorial rights in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey warns that militarizing the islands close to mainland Turley is a threat and an open provocation that may lead to military confrontation.
Hulusi Akar said Turkey is ready to dialogue with Greece, a neighbor and fellow NATO member to turn the Aegean waters into a “sea of friendship” and not breach international agreements.
He also said “They (Greece) should not miscalculate … They should not test us in any way, I hope they don’t make such a mistake.”
According to Akar, Turkey wants “the two sides to benefit from the riches,” His government wants “both the Turkish people and the Greeks to live happily and prosperously.”
Tensions flared in the summer of 2020 in the Mediterranean area where Greece and Cyprus claim as their own exclusive economic zone.
Greece, backed by parliament, plans to extend its territorial waters from the current six to 12 nautical miles around its Aegean islands, the move will block Turkey’s access to the Aegean, which Turkey sees as an invitation to war.
But Turkey’s NATO alliance, has been weakened by the “open or covert” arms embargo by some NATO allies on Turkey especially the U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet program over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s advanced S-400 long-range missile defense system, and concerns that the Russian technology would expose the fighter jets.
Turkey’s drone equipment powered by Canadian technology was also canceled in April 2021 by Canada for unauthorized used in the Azerbaijan conflict with Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is in addition to similar sanctions by France, Britain and Germany, after Ankara launched an operation in northeast Syria against Kurdish fighters
Akar said Turkey is also in talks with the U.S. over a request to purchase F-16 fighter planes and purchase kits to modernize its existing F-16 fleet as compensation for the $1.4 billion it had spent on the F-35 program before its ouster.