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Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik has warned Greece to be careful against “bad jokes” after Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said last week that Athens was ready for “military conflict with Turkey.”

“Do not make such bad jokes, this type of joke will stick on your forehead,” Çelik said on June 8 following a meeting of the AKP’s central executive committee.

“Greece has been continuously making statements which are increasing the tension. Greek Defense Minister has said that they are ready for a war with Turkey to protect their rights. Turkey is a state of law, not a tribal state. It does not have ministers speaking like it’s a tribal state. It is Turkey’s priority was to stay within law, to protect its rights and interests within the scope of the law,” Çelik said

The AKP spokesman said that the Turkish army is one of the most world’s most powerful military forces, adding: “The military’s determination and power to protect Turkey’s national interests is not up for discussion, and everyone knows it.”

Panagiotopoulos last week did not rule out the possibility of a “military conflict” with Turkey, saying that his country is ready for any scenario to defend its rights.

“We do not want to go there, but we want to make it clear that we will do whatever it takes to defend our sovereign rights to the fullest extent possible,” Panagiotopoulos said on June 4.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on June 3 sent letters to top EU officials protesting Turkey’s activities in the eastern Mediterranean and the publication in the Turkish government’s gazette of a map outlining areas of the Greek continental shelf where Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has applied for exploration permits.

The letters were sent to the European Council President Charles Michel and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said in a press briefing on June 4.