Turkey's Erdogan says Greece should take warnings seriously

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fuelled tensions with Greece by saying that "we might come suddenly one night". PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ANKARA - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Greece should take his warnings seriously about Turkey's response to any threats, resorting to the menacing rhetoric he's used in recent months that's prompted the US to urge the two Nato allies to negotiate.

Ties between Turkey and Greece have been strained for years over territorial conflicts in the east Mediterranean.

But tensions have escalated in recent months over what Turkey says is a Greek military buildup on Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast.

The Turkish president last month fuelled tensions between the two by saying that "we might come suddenly one night".

"You've understood it right, they should have taken the message as well," Erdogan said in Prague when asked by a journalist if he meant an attack against Greece.

The president is attending an informal meeting of EU leaders in the Czech Republic's capital.

The US has repeatedly called upon the two Nato allies to work out their differences through dialogue and prioritise the broader regional risks associated with Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Greece never provokes, it responds with confidence, it responds every time it's being provoked," Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday morning. He reiterated that Greece is not the one that shuts the door to talks and that the other European leaders have the chance to actually see who is the one that provokes and raises the tone.

"Turkey does not want tensions with any of its neighbours," Erdogan said. But "we have nothing to talk about with Greece right now".

Mitsotakis earlier expressed his readiness to meet Erdogan in Prague if asked by the Turkish leader. Erdogan on Thursday, without elaborating, said the Greek prime minister was disturbed with a speech he made at the official dinner.

Greece has repeatedly called on Turkey to stop questioning its sovereignty over the islands, and has accused Erdogan's government of indulging in "extremely aggressive rhetoric".

Greece contends that it has fully abided by international law governing the islands and that Ankara's made repeated violations of Greek airspace. The Dodecanese were ceded to Greece by Italy following World War II with a provision for their demilitarisation. BLOOMBERG

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