Defense Minister warns Greece not to test Turkey’s patience

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stated that Greece should avoid testing Turkey’s patience with provocations, including threats to expand its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea.

Ankara, Turkey – Turkey’s defense minister warned on Saturday that Greece should avoid testing Turkey’s patience with provocations, including threats to expand its territorial waters in the Aegean.

“They (Greece) should not misjudge and think that now is the right time (to extend the territorial sea to) 12 miles,” Akar said. “They should not test us in any way, nor should they take such risks. I hope they will not make such mistakes.”

He added: “Let both parties benefit from wealth, so that both the Turkish and Greek people can live happily and prosperously.”

For a long time, Greece and Turkey have diverged on a series of disputes over territorial rights in the Aegean Sea and energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. In the summer of 2020, the exploration and drilling rights in the Mediterranean area, where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones, triggered tensions.

Greece stated that it reserves the right to extend its territorial waters from 6 nautical miles around the current Aegean islands to 12 nautical miles. Turkey has long stated that it will regard this move-which will prevent it from entering the Aegean Sea-as the cause of the war. In January of this year, the Greek Parliament voted to extend the waters of its western coastline on the other side of the country to 12 miles.

Athens recently called on Turkey to withdraw its decision to expand its territorial waters as a cause of war, if it wants to normalize relations. It also urged Ankara to end its provocative actions in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.

At the same time, when commenting on the NATO alliance, Akar expressed regret for what he said was the “open or secret” arms embargo imposed by some NATO allies on Turkey. He said that these countries do not sell defense components to Turkey and are “weakening” the alliance.

After Turkey purchased Russia’s advanced S-400 long-range missile defense system, the United States imposed sanctions on some Turkish defense officials and expelled Turkey from the U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet program for fear that Russian technology would endanger Turkey’s Safety. The fighter is in danger.

After discovering that Turkish ally Azerbaijan clashed with Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh five months ago, Canada cancelled its UAV technology export license to Turkey in April last year. Arms control advocates claim that the drone uses an imaging and sighting system produced by a Canadian company. In October 2019, after Ankara launched operations against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, Canada and a few European countries including France, the United Kingdom, and Germany suspended arms exports.

Akar stated that it is negotiating with the United States on Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets to compensate for the 1.4 billion U.S. dollars spent on the F-35 project before being expelled. Turkey is also seeking to purchase kits to modernize its existing F-16 fleet.

When asked about the increasing tensions caused by Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine, Akar said that Turkey hopes to resolve the dispute with “the greatest possible calm and prudence.”

He added: “Our vision from the beginning was: We are for peace, to solve the problem through negotiation. Let us not increase tension, and keep us away from any provocative behavior. … That’s why we repeat it again and again. Tell our interlocutors over and over again that it is very important to proceed with caution.”