With growing military confrontations in the Eastern Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey, several European Union (EU) nations have got itself involved in the conflict and taken sides.
Greece has been ramping up its military by procuring modernised weapons. The latest ones in the row include the French Rafale jets boosting the air operations and the decision to build a naval base in Crete, expected to strengthen the Navy.
Following such decisions, a Turkish expert has called the strategies adopted by Greek leaders similar to that pursued by Israel’s “expansionist leaders.” In a report by Greek newsletter, Pentapostagma cited a Turkish expert who said that Greece finds “permanent and unconditional support from the EU, no matter how irrational it acts” which is similar to the American support for Israel.
“Like Israel, Greece insists on its minimalist claims to the Eastern Mediterranean. What is more absurd is that Greece has a fragile connection with the Eastern Mediterranean, except for the islands that are located hundreds of miles away from the Greek mainland,” the report quoted Turkish director and professor of the University Khaldoun Talha Köse.
Tensions between Ankara and Athens have bee soaring in recent days after Greece disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean as it tries to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
France has declared its support for Greece and has reportedly lent a helping hand to the former by equipping them with 18 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to fight their Mediterranean neighbours.
The contract between the French and Greek governments is at an advanced stage, which will see the Hellenic Air Force add a whole Rafale squadron to their existing fleet of Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcons, Dassault Mirage 2000s, and McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The deal is reported to be completed by the end of the year.
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos confirmed for a second naval base along with ratification of two agreements with the United States on a mutual fuel supply program for the air force and navy.
“This is in our plans, both because it is dictated by circumstances but also because our country must have a presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. For this to happen, the Crete Naval Base needs to be upgraded and strengthened,” Panagiotopoulos said while addressing the Parliament’s Defence and Foreign Affairs committee at the ministry in Athens.
The new naval base is expected to accommodate ships and submarines of the Greek fleet permanently and will be created by upgrading the facilities of Souda. It will strengthen the Greek Navy to deal with any confrontations in the sea, especially with Turkey.
“The aggressive and unjust actions of Athens and Paris have unexpected results, which is terrible news for the two capitals,” said the Turkish expert. He added that Turkey is much stronger militarily and more resilient than any other country in the region. “Greece pretends to act like a new Israel, but Turkey is not Palestine or any other state in the region in terms of its military capabilities.”
The expert emphasised that the Greek lobbies in the US and Europe may cause harm to Turkey’s international interests and pressurise Ankara. “But if there is a breach of Turkish sovereignty and fundamental national security interests, it may not be enough to defend Greece against the Turkish military force,” he warned.