Retired Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı has warned Turkey against a possible attack by Greece, which he claims has been preparing for it by way of international agreements on military cooperation, urging Ankara to activate its S-400 air missile defense system without negotiating with any other parties, local media reported on Wednesday.
Yaycı on Tuesday told the Haberler.com news website that Greece would attack Turkey in a weak moment and had been signing billions of dollars in defense agreements with France and the US to that end.
“It has become essential that we activate the S-400s without negotiating with anyone. We need to ensure the security of our state and nation by activating them. The S-400 isn’t an offensive weapon. It’s a defense system. … But all those recently purchased by Greece are offensive weapons. [They are to be used] against whom? … Against Turkey,” he claimed.
Greece signed a defense deal with France worth around 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion), including the purchase of three French frigates for the Greek navy, in late September. The agreement, which came in an environment where tensions between Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, have increased in recent years over energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean, includes a deal for mutual assistance in the event of an attack by a third country.
The two neighbors have been at loggerheads for decades over a series of issues, including territorial rights in the Aegean Sea, maritime and aviation boundaries and minority rights.
Yaycı brought to mind Article 5 of the NATO treaty on collective defense, which stipulates that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all, questioning the necessity of signing another deal under the same principle with a NATO ally.
“Are France, Greece and Turkey members of NATO? Yes, they are. … Then, why are they signing such a deal? … This means that France and Greece undermine the soul and unity of NATO, and the spirit of alliance. … Turkey, therefore, should express that this [agreement] undermines NATO’s unity,” he added.
Greece and the US also signed a deal last week, expanding their defense cooperation agreement to grant the latter’s forces broader use of Greek bases and putting a US military presence just miles from Turkey. Greek officials also have been actively pursuing other international agreements, with partners in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.
Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s in 2017 triggered sanctions for violating the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.
The US administration had formerly asked Turkey to submit a written commitment that it would not activate the S-400s so that the sanctions against the country could be lifted, but the proposal was declined by Turkey, saying it would violate their sovereign rights.
Along with Ankara’s other NATO partners, Washington argues that the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey, however, rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.
The White House removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program in 2019 over concerns that the Turkish government’s decision to enter into a missile defense relationship with Moscow would compromise the security of the program’s sensitive cutting-edge technology.