UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH PRESIDENT
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday slammed Greece over its latest "provocations," saying Ankara will not fail to defend its rights and interests.
"The occupation-looking military buildups of foreign countries all over Greece should, in essence, disturb Greek people, not us," Erdogan said after the Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
Erdogan's remarks came after Turkish army drones recorded Greek deployment of armored vehicles on the islands of Midilli (Lesvos) and Sisam (Samos), which is in violation of international law.
Türkiye on Monday summoned the Greek ambassador and called for an end to violations on the Aegean islands and restoring their non-military status, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Also, in a protest note to the US, Türkiye urged respect for the status of Eastern Aegean islands and stressed measures should be taken to prevent the use of weapons there.
Erdogan said Türkiye is following Greece's policies "filled with provocation."
"We are well aware of the real intentions of those who provoked and unleashed Greek politicians against us to hinder our program of building up a great and powerful Türkiye.
"However, this is a dangerous game for the Greek politicians, the Greek state, the Greek people, and those who use them as puppets," he stressed.
Greece will be held accountable for people it left to die in the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean, Erdogan said.
The president added Türkiye will not fail to defend the country's rights and interests against Greece, "using all the means at our disposal," reiterating that Greece is not at the same level as Türkiye.
"Neither those military buildups nor those political and economic support are enough to raise Greece to our level, but these wrong steps are enough to drag Greece into the swamp in every sense," Erdogan said.
- 'Diplomatic successes'
About the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Erdogan said Türkiye is in close contact with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"We have attained many diplomatic successes, from grain shipments to prisoner exchanges, by maintaining our dialogue with both sides," Erdogan said.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February.
Erdogan said over 5 million tons of grain from Ukraine had been exported since the first vessel sailed under the Istanbul deal on Aug. 1.
The president stressed that he drew attention to Türkiye's mediation role in the migration crisis and grain shipment on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and that he got appreciation from the world leaders.
Erdogan reiterated his wish to bring Putin and Zelenskyy together at a negotiating table to end the war.