A ruling Justice and Development (AKP) deputy has warned Greece over a fresh rift over the Kardak islets, saying Turkey would shoot at the country if they “played any games.”
“I am warning Greece: You were saved owing to a cowardly [Turkish] admiral in 1996. Do not play the Kardak game with us. We will shoot you!” Hüseyin Kocabıyık, the party’s İzmir deputy, tweeted on Feb. 1.
Kocabıyık was referring to a previous escalation between the two countries 21 years ago over the small Aegean islets.
The AKP deputy also claimed that the naval commander of the time disobeyed the instruction of then-Prime Minister Tansu Çiller to sink Greek ships.
“The Greek impertinence in the Aegean is continuing because the political order was not followed on that day. However, the Greeks should know that Turkey is not the country as it was in 1996,” Kocabıyık added.
Tensions in the Aegean are the highest they have been in years, with Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and his top brass visiting the area near Kardak with a naval war ship on Jan. 29, prompting condemnation from the Greek side. Coast guard vessels of the two countries have also come head to head around the islets.
The islets, Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish, are two small uninhabited rocks in the Aegean Sea, situated between the Greek island chain of the Dodecanese and the southwestern mainland coast of Turkey. Greece and Turkey nearly went to war over the islets in 1996 in an escalation that resulted in each side landing soldiers on one islet.