Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Greece’s actions against the Turkish air forces in the Aegean Sea were a part of a plan to destabilize the situation in the region.
CNN Turk broadcaster reported on Sunday, citing sources in the Turkish defense ministry, that Greece had deployed an S-300 air defense system to track the F-16 fighters of the Turkish air forces performing a reconnaissance mission 10,000 feet west of Rhodes Island on August 23. Turkish media reported that “despite these hostile actions, the planes fulfilled their planned tasks and safely returned to their bases.” Sources in the Greek Defense Ministry categorically denied Turkey’s claims that Athens deployed its S-300 system in Crete against Turkey’s F-16s, describing the statements as “myths” aimed at creating a hostile attitude toward Greece.
“We are all well aware of the true reasons behind attempts to infringe on Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. We are also aware of the goals of the forces and circles that today arm terrorists near Turkey’s borders free of charge, although once refusing to hand over weapons in exchange for money to Ankara,” Turkish news agency Anadolu quoted Erdogan as saying.
Erdogan slammed Greece’s actions against the Turkish air forces in the Aegean Sea as a “provocation,” adding that these were “a part of a plan to destabilize the situation in the region.”
The president noted that the country relies on the development of the domestic defense industry in response to threats to its national security.
On Wednesday, A Haber TV channel reported, citing sources in the Turkish Ministry of Defense, that Ankara was intending to share with NATO member states radar recordings of Greece’s alleged use of S-300 air defense systems in the pursuit of Turkish aircraft.
The relations between Athens and Ankara have been complicated for decades. The countries were on the verge of an armed conflict three times in the summer of 2020. Greece had to mobilize its armed forces after Turkey launched a seismic survey in the Eastern Mediterranean, the area that Athens considers its exclusive economic zone.