While things in Ukraine go from bad to worse, it seems at least in the realm of possibility that another bloody conflict in Europe is possible: a showdown between Greece and Turkey – and both are part of NATO.
Greece is calling on its allies to condemn Turkey over recent aggressive rhetoric from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has hinted at the possibility of open conflict as tensions rise between the two countries.
In letters dated Monday and Tuesday to NATO, the EU, and the UN that were reported on by the Associated Press, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias called for all three institutions to rebuke Ankara over Erdogan’s comments. Dendias said that allowing Turkey to continue threatening Greece would run the risk of yet another conflict in Europe, in an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine.
“By not doing so in time or by underestimating the seriousness of the matter, we risk witnessing again a situation similar to that currently unfolding in some other part of our continent,” Dendias said. “This is something none of us would really wish to see.”
In a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the top Greek diplomat said, “The Turkish attitude is a destabilizing factor for NATO’s unity and cohesion, weakening the southern flank of the alliance at a moment of crisis,” per the Associated Press.
Though both countries are NATO members, Turkey and Greece have a historically contentious relationship and have a longstanding dispute over islands in the Aegean Sea — on top of disagreements over other issues such as maritime boundaries.
Erdogan over the weekend accused Greece of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean, warning that Turkey will do “what’s necessary” when the time comes. In what was seemingly a veiled threat of an invasion or attack against Greece, Erdogan warned that Turkey could “come down suddenly one night.”
“Look at history, if you go further, the price will be heavy,” Erdogan said.
During a visit to Sarajevo on Tuesday, the Turkish leader doubled down on this threat.
“What I’m talking about is not a dream,” Erdogan said after he was questioned about his earlier comments toward Greece, the Associated Press reported. “When the time comes, we can come suddenly one night.”
John Haltiwanger is a senior politics reporter at Business Insider (where this first appeared). He reports on all things politics with a particular focus on national security and foreign policy. John has a BA in History from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an MSc in International Relations from the University of Glasgow. When he’s not reporting, John is likely searching for the best pizza slice in Brooklyn or watching/playing soccer.