Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Türkiye will not take a step back from its principled stance regarding Greece’s violation of the status of demilitarized islands in the Aegean and has given instructions to the navy and air forces regarding the matter, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
Akar noted that the naval and air forces have been given clear instructions on doing what is necessary regarding Greece’s violations of islands with demilitarized status, as Athens has been violating it since 1956.
“The 1997 Kardak crisis marks a new era. We have not retreated an inch from what is necessary to be done on the field or the table,” he said.
Akar continued by saying that it is out of the question for Ankara to be tolerant regarding the matter.
The two uneasy NATO neighbors have long-standing sea and air boundary disputes which lead to near-daily air force patrols and interception missions mostly around Greek islands near Türkiye’s coastline.
Türkiye, a NATO member, has often criticized the military alliance, including the United States, for not supporting it enough on its territorial dispute with Greece on islands in the Aegean and the issue of exploration of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Since the beginning of 2022, Greek warplanes have violated Turkish airspace 256 times and harassed Turkish jets on 158 occasions. Greek coast guard boats also violated Turkish territorial waters 33 times.
Moreover, Ankara says Athens is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of peace treaties signed after World Wars I and II. But, Athens claims it needs to "defend the islands" – many of which lie close to its NATO ally Türkiye's coast.