Turkey’s Erdogan ‘threatens’ Greece with missile strike in Aegean row

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President Erdogan has lashed out at the Greek Government with a warning over Turkey’s new long-range ballistic missile. In a recent speech to voters in the northern city of Samsun, the Turkish leader appeared to threaten to turn the Tayfun missile on Athens if Greece did not back down in the ongoing dispute of the Dodecanese islands. 

Erdogan told supporters: “You say Tayfun, the Greek is scared. He says it will hit Athens. Of course, it will.

“If you don’t keep calm, if you buy stuff from America for the islands, from here and there, a country like Turkey will not sit idly by. It has to do something.”

Dodecanese islands are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea which Turkey ceded to Greece in 1923 under the Lausanne Treaty and again in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.

Holding the Dodecanese means Greece, which defines itself as an archipelagic state, to extend control over the seas six nautical miles around each island in seriously curbing Turkey’s maritime territorial claims in the Aegean.

Robert Ellis an International adviser at the Research Institute for European and American Studies in Athens believes any moves to extend Greece’s territorial waters would be taken as a “casus belli” by Turkey.

Writing in Jerusalem Post, Mr Ellis wrote: “The reference is to the Dodecanese islands, which were ceded to Greece in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.

“The bone of contention is that Greece claims to be an archipelagic state like Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. 

“Accordingly, it lays claim to the waters that lie six nautical miles from each island, which does not allow for any Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea.

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“Greece has extended its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles, but Turkey has made it clear that a similar extension in the Aegean will be regarded as a casus belli (cause for war).”

Ankara test-fired the Turkish military’s latest ballistic missile codenamed Tayfun or Typhoon in October.

The surface-to-surface guided missile has a range of up to 500km meaning the weapon is able to reach Athens.

Footage of the secret missile launch was leaked to Turkish media despite Ankara’s desire to keep the military project under wraps.

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Turkey’s ballistic missile programme has previously developed the Yildirim (Thunderbolt) which has a 150km range and Bora (Storm) which can reach targets up to 280km away.

The test fire sparked concern in Greece coming against the backdrop of the long-running maritime disputes in the Aegean.

Retired General Frangoulis Fragos told Greek broadcaster ERT that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was looking for the country to design a missile capable of reaching 2,500km.

“It would give Turkey the ability to control the wider region and play the role of a regional power,” he said. 

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