US State Department spokesperson Ned Price finds the threats of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Greece provocative and calls for de-escalation among the NATO allies.
“We regret this escalation of provocative statements,” said Price during the Department Press Briefing on 12 December.
Turkey’s various pro-government media organs on Monday carried headlines claiming that Erdoğan’s comments about Tayfun (typhoon) missiles that have the capability to hit Athens have created alarm and panic in Greece.
“We have started to build our missiles now. Naturally this frightens the Greeks,” Erdoğan said during a speech in the northern province of Samsun on Sunday. “When you say ‘Tayfun’, the Greeks are scared. They say it will hit Athens. Of course, it will,” he said.
Price said this escalation is, “especially regrettable at a time when unity and cooperation is needed most among our own NATO Allies.”
“We urge all of our allies to avoid threats and provocative rhetoric. All that an escalation of rhetoric will do is to is to raise tensions and to distract us from the unity of purpose, the unity of purpose that we need to confront any number of challenges,” said Price.
The spokesperson mentioned challenges NATO potentially faces from Russia, and the active threat the people of Ukraine face from Russian aggression.
Tension between neighbours Turkey and Greece have been high for years over various issues including maritime borders and Cyprus, and have ramped up in recent months as Ankara accuses Athens of illegally building up military presence on islands in the Aegean.