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Turkey files protest with Greece, US in islands row

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Ankara on Monday summoned the Greek ambassador and protested to Washington after accusing Greece of deploying US armored vehicles on two Aegean islands near the Turkish coast, Agence France-Presse reported.

Greece branded the move as “completely unfounded and incompatible with international law”, and accused Ankara of aggressive behavior.

Greece and Turkey, which are both part of the US-led NATO defense alliance, have feuded for years over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in the Aegean and east Mediterranean seas.

The latest escalation started when Turkish security sources shared aerial images over the weekend purportedly showing ships loaded with US armored vehicles docking at two Greek islands, Lesbos and Samos.

The Turkish foreign ministry told the Greek envoy that Athens should “stop violations” and respect the non-military status the islands were assigned by international law, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

In a note to the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey told Washington that its “weapons should not be used in breach” of the islands’ agreed status, Anadolu said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan separately accused Greece of staging “provocations” and playing “perilous games.”

A Greek diplomatic source said Athens rejected Ankara’s objections as “completely unfounded and incompatible with international law.”

The source added that the Greek ambassador had written two letters to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to set out his country’s stance in detail.

Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Greece of “occupying” the Aegean islands, whose status was settled in treaties adopted after World War I.

In response, Athens accuses Turkey of conducting hundreds of illegal military sorties over the islands.

The Greek diplomatic source said Turkey had threatened its neighbor with war, accusing it of assembling a huge naval presence and violating Greece’s sovereignty and airspace.

Greece filed a formal complaint with the European Union, NATO and the United Nations after Erdoğan hinted at a possible military operation in the Aegean earlier this month.

Erdoğan continued his war of words on Monday, saying Greece was not Turkey’s equal and rejecting diplomatic talks.

He also vowed to defend Turkey’s interests with “any means at its disposal” in the islands row.

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