Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned neighboring Greece against a military buildup in the Aegean Sea. File Photo by Gokhan Mert/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/3465675607fed7f5a31acc426a4281e0/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned neighboring Greece against a military buildup in the Aegean Sea. File Photo by Gokhan Mert/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 3 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned neighboring Greece against a military buildup in the Aegean Sea, then suggested Turkey could “come down suddenly one night” in a surprise attack.

“Greece’s occupation of Aegean Sea islands is not our concern,” Erdogan said Saturday in a speech at a technology festival in Samsun province to tout a prototype for an unmanned fighter jet built by Turkish engineers, according to Bloomberg.

“Your occupying the islands doesn’t bind us … When the time comes, we will do what is necessary. As we say, all of a sudden, we can come overnight.”

The threats from Erdogan marked an escalation in a battle of words between the two NATO partners.

Tensions between the neighboring countries reached a fever pitch this week after Greece called on NATO to remove a Twitter post by the Allied Land Command marking the 100th anniversary of Turkey’s Victory Day.

Every year on Aug. 30, Turkey celebrates its independence after defeating the Greek military in 1922.

Erdogan chided Athens on Saturday to “remember Izmir,” the last Turkish city liberated from Greek control when the war ended.

“If you go too far, the price will be heavy,” he said, according to Bloomberg.

The Turkish government was said to be growing increasingly concerned about a growing U.S. presence in the region and thinks Greece is growing more emboldened with military support from Western nations.

Turkey has filed grievances with NATO accusing the Greek military of firing on Turkish jets in August and regularly sabotaging its radar systems in international airspace.

Further complicating matters, Turkey has been searching for natural gas in territorial waters claimed by both Greece and Cyprus.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reportedly flew over the Aegean Sea in a fighter jet Friday as an act of defiance.

Meanwhile, Greece accused Turkey of violating its airspace has blamed Turkey for fanning further tensions in the region by making “provocative statements” over “the last few days.”

A meeting between Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in March ended positively but failed to produce any meaningful agreements.

Erdogan was later angered when Mitsotakis went to Washington to lobby against upgrades for the Turkish military and to seek a deal for F-35 stealth fighter jets for Greece.

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