Tension between Greece and Turkey has been mounting, and it doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon, especially after a speech made by the Turkish president on Sunday.
In what appeared to be a taunt in response to comments made by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos earlier in the week advising Turkey to not challenge the sovereignty of Greek islands, Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a speech at Sakarya, the region where Greece lost the 21-day Battle of the Sangarios during the Greco-Turkish War in 1921.
At the symbolic site, Erdogan urged Greeks to “refresh their memory” of the history between the two countries.
“Those who want to refresh their memory, they should look at their recent history,” Erdogan said, adding: “Those who speak words that are too big for them should first read history books. Let them learn very well how they escaped being salted like fish in Sangarios, how they jumped into the sea to get away from here.”
Earlier in the week on Wednesday while celebrating the 70th anniversary of the incorporation of the Dodecanese into Greece on Nisyros, President Pavlopoulos made a speech in which he addressed Ankara’s questioning of the sovereignty of Greek islands in the Dodecanese.
“Over the duration of my term and beyond, I will do everything possible to defend the long history and the unquestionable Greekness of Nisyros and all the islands of the Dodecanese,” he said.
Highlighting Greece’s relations with Turkey, Pavlopoulos said “Greece wants friendship and good neighbourliness with Turkey, so it supports its European accession course, but respect for the borders and for international law as a whole and the Lausanne and Paris treaties, as well as the International law of the Sea – this is the basis upon which we can build our friendship with Turkey.”
Meanwhile the Greek president also added that “those who harbour notions of ‘gray zones’ in the Aegean, or claim territory which does not belong to them, or question the full sovereignty of Greece in the Dodecanese” Greece has the right to bolster its defence when deemed necessary.