Tensions between Greece and Turkey remain sky-high, after a series of strategic moves that some analysts fear could spill over into open conflict between the two countries, that have remained foes for a long time.
On Tuesday, in an apparent reprisal for Greece’s decision to station military equipment on the island of Samos, not far awy from Turkish mainland, Turkey launched a test of its Tayfun short-range ballistic missile over the Black Sea, and Turkish media boasted that its military had the capability to strike anywhere inside Greece.
Last Friday, 92 migrants, mostly from Afghanistan and Syria, were encountered by Greek police close to the land border with Turkey, almost naked and without supplies. Notis Mitarachi, Greece’s minister for migration and asylum, tweeted that “Turkey’s behaviour towards 92 migrants whom we rescued at the borders today is a shame for civilisation.”
A spokesperson for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the accusations “groundless and unfounded.”
These events are just the most recent in a long list of rising disputes between the two NATO allies in recent months. A particular point of tension has been Greece’s placement of military equipment, including U.S.-donated tactical vehicles, on several of its islands in the Aegean Sea close to the Turkish mainland.
On Sept. 1, Erdogan raised the temperature of the long-simmering territorial dispute by accusing Greece of “occupying” the islands, which were ceded to Greece in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.
“When the time comes, we will do what’s necessary,” warned the spokesperson. We can come suddenly one night,” he warned, a phrase that alludes to Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, during which Turkey captured roughly one-third of the island, establishing the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Erdogan has also used the phrase in the recent past, for example before Turkey’s 2016 military campaign in Syria, as well as his warnings in 2017 to Iraqi Kurds against holding a referendum for an independent state.