(Bloomberg) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday slammed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over his comments last week urging that the US Congress block the sale of F-16 warplanes to NATO ally Turkey.
Turkey wants to buy dozens of F-16 warplanes and upgrade kits from the US for its existing fleet. It also remains concerned that its traditional rival Greece may get superior F-35 jets, which the US has barred Ankara from buying on the grounds that its Russian-made S-400 missile systems might be used to gather intelligence on the stealth jet.
Erdogan accused the Greek prime minister of sabotaging efforts to address long-running territorial conflicts between the traditional rivals and mounting a lobbying effort against Turkey in the US Congress, which must approve any sale of warplanes to Ankara if asked by President Joe Biden’s administration.
“Let Mitsotakis think about the future now. We are faced with a Greece that is suggesting to the US ‘don’t give the F-16s to Turkey,’” Erdogan said late Monday as he called off a planned high-level meeting between the neighboring countries. “There is no one named Mitsotakis for me anymore. The US will probably not act according to the word of Greece.”
What Turkey Wants From Sweden and Finland in NATO Expansion Spat
A flare-up in tensions come as NATO tries to overcome Ankara’s opposition to the admission of Sweden and Finland into the military alliance over their alleged support for autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants who’ve been battling Turkey for years.
The two NATO members have mobilized their navies and warplanes in opposition to one another in the Mediterranean Sea as late as 2020 over tensions rooted in exploration for natural gas off the island of Cyprus, as well as territorial rifts in the Aegean Sea. Diplomatic talks to lower tensions have yielded no tangible results so far.
The Greek prime minister’s office said in response to Erdogan that it was not planning to get into an exchange barbs with Turkey.
The Conflicts That Keep Turkey and Greece at Odds: QuickTake
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