Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added Sunday to a long series of bellicose statements he and his ministers have directed at Greece, this time threatening to strike the country, specifically capital Athens, with a missile “unless you stay calm.”
“Greece is afraid of our missiles. They say that the TAYFUN missile will hit Athens, it will, unless you stay calm,” Erdogan said Sunday, according to journalist Ragip Soylu, Turkish Bureau chief of news site Middle East Eye.
Tayfun (Turkish for “typhoon”) is a short-range ballistic missile, or SRBM, developed by Turkey and test-fired last October 18.
At about 560 kilometers, its range is more than double that of the currently known missiles in Turkey’s arsenal, the Bora-1.
These kinds of threats are not new, although, in this case, they are more specific than usual.
A few days ago, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened Greece with invasion if it does not demilitarize its Aegean islands. Cavusoglu said Turkey would “suddenly arrive overnight,” a phrase Turkish officials often like to use.
Greek officials usually dismiss these statements as pandering to a domestic audience. But, with Erdogan facing a difficult re-election next year, they are also concerned that he could orchestrate an incident as an act of desperation.
Also, with Greece facing a double election next year, in which a caretaker government is likely to be in place between the two elections, government officials are wary that Erdogan could time the incident to coincide with the period of least stability in Greek politics.