February 2, 2017 / 8:59 AM / 8 months ago

Turkish foreign minister warns of Greek 'provocations'

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (C) the attends a ceremony in the "House of Independence" before meeting Paraguay's foreign minister Eladio Loizaga at his office in Asuncion, Paraguay, January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Valdez

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has accused Greece of provocative actions and warned there could be “no going back” if tensions were allowed to escalate, a newspaper said on Thursday, underscoring strains from territorial disputes and Athens’ failure to hand over Turkish soldiers who fled after an abortive coup.

Tensions between the NATO allies rose when a Greek court last week blocked the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers Ankara accuses of involvement in July’s failed coup. The move angered Turkey, which said relations with Greece would be reviewed.

On Wednesday, Greece reported mass incursions by Turkish military aircraft over the central and southern Aegean, which Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos called “cowboy antics”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the mass circulation Hurriyet newspaper Turkey was behaving “reasonably”.

“Greece has been doing provocative things for a long time. We are behaving reasonably so there are no tensions with our neighbors,” the newspaper quoted him as saying while on an official trip to Latin America.

“We know how to give the necessary response, the minister’s approach isn’t new... If the situation escalates, God forbid, if there is an unwanted accident, there will be no going back.”

He did not specify what he meant by “no going back”.

Turkey and Greece came to the brink of war in 1996 over the ownership of uninhabited islets known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish.

The two countries play an important role in the handling of Europe’s worst migration crisis in decades and the EU depends on Ankara to enforce a deal to stem mass migration to Europe.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Ralph Boulton; Editing by David Dolan

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