President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats to Greece that the Turkish army “could come all of a sudden one night” — a phrase he has repeatedly used for Syria — have reverberated at home and abroad. The triggers of Erdogan’s anger, however, go beyond his oft-cited effort to woo nationalist voters ahead of elections next year.
Speaking at a public event on Sept. 3, Erdogan called on Greece to “look to history” and “not forget about Izmir” — a reference to the Turkish recapture of the Aegean city in September 1922 that marked the ouster of occupying Greek forces and the end of the Turkish Liberation War in the wake of World War I. “If you go too far, you’ll pay a heavy price,” Erdogan warned, denouncing Greece’s “occupation” of Aegean islands. “When the time comes, we will do what’s necessary. We could come all of a sudden one night,” he said. He reiterated similar warnings during his Balkan tour this week.