Türkiye highlighted its commitment not to relinquish its rights in the Aegean Sea and to otherwise use the powers granted it by international agreements, the Turkish president declared on Thursday.
"Türkiye will not relinquish its rights in the Aegean and will not refrain from using the powers granted to it by international agreements for the armament of the islands when necessary," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter both in English and Greek.
"Türkiye neither violates anyone's rights or law, nor lets anyone violate its own," Erdogan added.
Criticizing Athens for the militarization of the Aegean islands, which have non-military status, Erdogan said: "We leave it to the international community to decide what it means to demand 40,000 kilometers maritime jurisdiction for Meis island, which is less than 2 kilometers from our country's mainland but more than 600 kilometers from Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean."
Additionally, Erdogan issued a warning to Greece over its actions in the Aegean Sea, calling on Athens to "avoid dreams, statements and actions that will lead to regret, as it did a century ago" -- referring to the 1919-1923 Turkish War of Independence, which pushed Greek forces out of Türkiye -- and to "return to its senses."
Touching upon the problems of the Turkish minority in Greece's Western Thrace region, he added: "Greece still continues to put pressure on the Turkish minorities in the western Thrace, Rhodes and Kos, ignoring international agreements, universal human rights and the values of the European Union of which it is a member."
Greece's Western Thrace region is home to some 150,000 Muslim Turks, whose rights to elect their own religious leaders, found Turkish associations, and have their own schools have been denied by Athens, in violation of European court orders.
Using NATO as a tool
Speaking on Greece's efforts to use NATO and other countries as a shield in its moves in the Aegean Sea, the Turkish president said: "Including demilitarized islands in various exercises and seeking to use NATO and third party countries as a tool in this unlawfulness is nothing but an effort that will have a tragic ending."
He went on to say: "As an ally that has paid the highest price within NATO, we have calmly welcomed the provocations of Greece, which has not even responded to our military delegation meeting invitations for the last 2 years. However, we see that our counterpart misinterprets our patience and calm."/aa