Athens ‘preparing something’ against Ankara with ‘abnormal attitude’: Akar

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Greece’s recent aggressive rhetoric and actions against Turkey are ‘abnormal’, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday, adding that Athens was planning ‘something’ against Ankara amid quintupling its defense budget .

“They are in a calculation against Turkey in their own way. There is a fivefold increase in the arms budget. What we are saying is that it is little for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Turkey, but a lot for defence,” Akar told Anadolu Agency (AA) newsroom.

Akar commented on Athens’ moves against Ankara over the F-16 deal, saying they were an “unfortunate attempt” by Greece and that the country’s attitude was “abnormal”.

Stressing the need for dialogue to overcome problems between Ankara and Athens, Akar said Turkey has never been a threat to its allies.

“In all official and informal meetings, we call on Greece to meet and talk with respect for international law… We call for dialogue but they don’t come. We want to talk and meet because we are strong” , he added. .

Calling on Greece to act in accordance with “good neighborly relations”, Akar said Turkey’s principles of good neighborly relations and “willingness to share the riches of international law” should not be seen as a weakness. “We are in favor of the law,” he said.

He further stressed that the problems between Turkey and Greece should not reflect on the relations of the European Union and NATO with Ankara.

Turkey and Greece, neighbors and NATO allies, are at odds over a number of issues, including competing claims to jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims to their continental shelves, maritime borders, airspace, their energy, the ethnically divided island of Cyprus, the status of the Aegean islands and migrants.

Turkey in recent months has stepped up its criticism of Greece stationing troops on islands in the eastern Aegean near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from the shore. These islands were to be demilitarized under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, so any troops or weapons on the islands are strictly prohibited.

In addition, Turkey and Greece have traded accusations of airspace violations in recent months. Turkey is demanding that Greece demilitarize its eastern islands, now that this action is required under 20th-century treaties that ceded sovereignty of the islands to Greece. Turkish authorities say the Greeks stationed troops on the Aegean islands in violation of peace treaties that followed World War I and World War II.

Although it has declared that it has no intention of entering into an arms race with its neighbor and NATO ally Turkey, Greece also continues to carry out an ambitious program of rearmament of its armed forces. Greece’s burgeoning weapons program is designed to counter the protection of Turkish interests in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has often warned Greece against an arms race, offering to resolve all outstanding issues, including in the Aegean Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and the island of Cyprus, through dialogue.

Tensions erupted again when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently declared that Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, accusing him of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.

The defense chief also stressed the importance of a potential agreement with the United States on the sale of F-16 fighter jets, saying that a technical meeting between Turkish and American officials would be held on August 15. .

“If our air force is strong, not only the Turkish air force will be strong, but NATO will also be strong,” he noted.

Expressing hope that the deal would yield “positive” results, Akar said that if not, the world “has widened and so we have our options. A counter-option could be made.”

After its unjust suspension from the F-35 program, Turkey sought to broker a deal with the United States for the sale of F-16s and upgrade kits for earlier models of the fighter jet.

A deal worth around $6 billion would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and upgrade kits for 80 F-16 C/D models the Air Force Command has in its inventory.

In early May, reports appeared in some US news outlets claiming that several lawmakers were supportive of the deal.

Counter-Terrorism Efforts

Affirming that Turkey will resolutely continue its counter-terrorism operations, the minister said a total of 2,226 terrorists had been “neutralized” this year alone.

Turkish authorities use “neutralize” to imply that the terrorists in question surrendered, were killed or captured.

Turkey’s only goal is to protect the safety of its citizens and has “no eye” on another country’s territory, Akar said.

He added that the only targets of Turkey’s counterterrorism efforts are terrorists and highlighted the efforts of his forces to provide security for local ethnic groups.

Akar also highlighted Turkey’s fight against the Daesh terrorist group in northern Syria and Iraq.

Ankara expects countries to understand that its only targets are terrorists, Akar said, adding, “We have made efforts to stabilize the region.”

In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh a terrorist group.

The country has since been attacked by the terror group on several occasions, with more than 300 people killed and hundreds injured in at least 10 suicide attacks, seven bombings and four armed assaults.

In response, Turkey launched counter-terrorism operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.

In a recent attack on the Turkish Consulate General building in the Iraqi city of Mosul last week, Akar said the incident showed the real perpetrators of attacks on civilians.

Reiterating Turkey’s willingness to investigate and cooperate to uncover the truth about a recent attack in the Duhok region, also in northern Iraq, Turkey’s defense chief said the security of Iraqis “must be assured”. We have expressed our willingness to cooperate with our Iraqi brothers. and will continue to say so.”

Last Wednesday, the Turkish Consulate General in Mosul was attacked while a meeting of the United Nations Security Council was discussing the situation in Iraq. No casualties were reported.

On the council’s agenda was the previous attack in Duhok, which Turkey says was the work of the PKK terror group, which often hides in northern Iraq to plan attacks.

Akar stressed that there is no difference between the PKK terrorist organization and the YPG, its Syrian branch.

In the past year alone, dozens of civilians and members of the security forces have lost their lives or been injured in terrorist attacks perpetrated by the PKK in Iraq.

During its more than 40-year terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

“Abdication of Reason”

Regarding a message from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) openly expressing sympathy for YPG terrorists, Akar said it was an “abdication of reason”.

“There is no explanation for this. Our American allies will be upset when they ever remember this,” Akar added.

CENTCOM last week praised three YPG terrorists who were killed in northern Syria. CENTCOM also offered its condolences to the families of the terrorists.

Turkey has long criticized US support for the YPG terror group. While Washington claims to be fighting Daesh terrorists with the help of its YPG allies, Ankara says using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense.

Asked if the United States would give up supporting the YPG, the minister said: “They will give up. You can’t live with terrorism, with terrorists. They will eventually understand this.”

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