Ankara: Greece’s position on the number of controversial issues, including congratulations expressed by NATO to Turkey on the anniversary of its victory in the War of Independence, cannot weaken the ties between the alliance and Ankara, since the organization will never be strong without the latter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
On Tuesday, the NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) published a social media post congratulating Turkey on the day of its victory over Greece in the Battle of Dumlupinar, which marked the final triumph of Ankara in the Turkish War of Independence in 1922 and turned into a disaster for Athens in Asia Minor. Very soon LANDCOM first removed and then changed the statement after a stern demarche from Greece.
“NATO, as always, has carried out a maneuver, demonstrating that it is a different force, but at the same time standing with Turkey. Greece’s concern or any position of Athens towards NATO cannot weaken relations between Ankara and the alliance. It is impossible to imagine NATO without Turkey. As for Greece, it has no value inside NATO. If there is no Turkey, NATO is not strong,” Erdogan told reporters.
On August 23, Greece used S-300 air defense systems to capture and escort F-16 fighters of the Turkish air force performing a reconnaissance mission west of Rhodes Island at the altitude of 10,000 feet, according to Turkish media. Sources in the Greek Defence Ministry have denied Turkey’s claims that Athens deployed its S-300s in Crete against Turkish F-16s. Moreover, the Greek authorities have described such statements as myths aimed at creating a hostile attitude toward the country.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Ankara expected objectivity from NATO in connection with the use by Greece of S-300 systems in the pursuit of Turkish aircraft. According to Akar, Athens ignores international law, good neighborly relations and friendship with Ankara.
Greece has been at odds with Turkey for decades over a range of issues, such as competing territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean and the Greek-Turkish divide in Cyprus. In addition, Greece has been greatly impacted by the large number of illegal migrants coming into the country through the border with Turkey. Human smuggling gangs regularly bring illegal migrants from one state to another.