Greece wants to have the upper hand over Turkey, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday while describing the recent arms as "futile."
"This is not an arms race, it is an arms show. They (Greece) try to achieve superiority over Turkey through arming up in their own way with the encouragement and provocations of certain countries. This is a futile effort," Akar said during a ministry awards ceremony in the capital Ankara.
He added that despite being a NATO ally, Greece has different aspirations it seeks to achieve through other alliances.
Despite having said that it has no intention of entering an arms race with its neighbor and NATO ally Turkey, Greece announced in September the purchase of three new Belharra frigates from France with the option for one more.
Greece also announced that it was planning to buy another six Rafale fighter jets.
Greece has often been embroiled in tensions with Turkey over a range of issues, from competing claims over hydrocarbon resources in the Aegean Sea to the demilitarization of islands. Greece's burgeoning arms program is designed to counter Turkish challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean, against which France is among the few EU states to have offered public support in past months.
Akar underlined that whatever Greece does, Turkey is determined to protect its rights and interests.
"We have problems with Greece in both the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. We defend that in the face of these problems, solutions must be sought based on international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue as well as peaceful means and methods," he said, adding that Greece, however, continues its aggressive acts and statements.
The minister underlined that Athens attempts to portray Ankara as "expansionist" based on "artificial claims."
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims made by EU members Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Both sides cite a range of treaties and international agreements from over the decades to support their conflicting territorial claims.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara favors resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations. Instead of opting to solve problems with Ankara through dialogue, Athens has, on several occasions, refused to sit at the negotiation table and opted to rally Brussels to take a tougher stance against Turkey.
Akar also reminded that Greece, in violation of international agreements, is militarizing Aegean islands that are under demilitarized status.
"The island Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis) is just 1.95 kilometers (1.2 miles) away from Turkey. It is an island of 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles). They want 40,000 square kilometers of the maritime zone for this island. When we say 'no' to this, we are called 'expansionist,'" he elaborated.
Akar said that Turkey expects Greece to come to Ankara for the fourth meeting within the scope of confidence-building measures.
"We want the people of the two countries to continue their lives in safety and prosperity by taking advantage of these existing riches. But we expect them to understand that these statements are never a weakness."
In January, they agreed to resume talks after a five-year hiatus following months of tensions. Since then, Ankara and Athens have held two rounds of talks, with the last one in Athens in March.
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