High tensions continue between Greece, Turkey

The increasingly tense relationship between neighbours and NATO allies Greece and Turkey has become even more so this week, with both sides urging the other to tone down its rhetoric.

Ankara took umbrage at the Greek Foreign Ministry likening Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a sultan in a statement relating to two Greek soldiers detained after straying over the border.

“The Greek government is increasingly beginning to lower the level of dialogue with Turkey. These comments, which are incompatible with a responsible government, are of great concern,” Turkey said in a statement.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, meanwhile, told a cabinet meeting in Athens that Turkey should tone down its rhetoric.

“Turkey has recently become more provocative and is exacerbating the situation on every front,” he said.

“We are not threatening anyone, but we are not afraid of anyone either. We call on our neighbours to desist with this escalation because it is pointless.”

He appealed to Erdoğan to release the two soldiers, who he said were being held unfairly in Turkish prison.

Turkey is disappointed that the Greek courts are refusing to extradite members of the Gülen movement who have claimed asylum in the country, as well as fleeing soldiers that Ankara believes were involved in the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

In the skies, the Greek military said seven Turkish aircraft had violated Greek airspace before being chased away by Greek fighter jets.

“Such violations are not uncommon but they have been growing in frequency in recent months amid a spike in tension between Athens and Ankara,” Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.

In addition, the Republic of Cyprus has announced it is in talks for the resumption of drilling in its territorial waters. Turkey has disrupted previous drills, with its politicians saying the mineral resources of the island should be under joint control with Turkish Cypriots.