Erdoğan says Greece challenged NATO by locking onto Turkish jets

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at Greece on Tuesday, accusing his country’s neighbour of hostility towards a fellow NATO member.

Greece, which has denied the allegations that a missile defence system locked onto Turkish jets earlier this month, was harassing Turkey’s aircraft, Erdoğan said in Ankara ahead of a celebration concert at his palace for the 100th anniversary of Turkey’s victory over countries including Greece in a war of independence.

"Greece has challenged NATO and its allies by increasing its hostile attitude, which started with harassing our airspace and aircraft and escalated to the level of S-300 radar lockdown," Erdoğan said, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. "Greece can neither match up to us nor become an interlocutor for us politically, economically or militarily."

Erdoğan said he was “curious about the U.S. response to the Greek air defence system’s harassment.” Unidentified Turkish defence ministry sources said on Monday that Greece had used a Russian S-300 missile system based on Crete on Aug. 23 to lock on to the aircraft, which safely returned from their mission.

“Greece’s S-300 missile system has never put a lock on Turkish F-16 jets,” Greek defence ministry sources said on Monday in response to the Turkish allegations, according to Greece's state-run Ert television.  A source from the Greek ministry said Turkey was trying to make “fake news”, Bloomberg reported the same day.

Turkey has been involved in a bitter dispute with the United States for acquiring S-400 air defence missiles from Russia in 2019. The purchase prompted Washington to impose sanctions on Turkey’s defence industry and bar it from a programme to buy F-35 stealth fighter jets. Turkey has called on the United States to negotiate a solution to the disagreement and has kept the S-400s inactive.

Erdoğan said the United States was targeting Turkey for sanctions while waiving them for India, which had also bought the missiles. The issue was not about compatibility of Russian and U.S. defence equipment, rather “it is Turkey in particular,” he said. India is not a member of NATO.

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