Athens/Istanbul: Amid constant threats from Turkey over rights in the Mediterranean Sea, Greece has begun to bolster its defence preparedness. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the decision to upgrade the country’s defence capabilities as he said, ‘It is time to boost capabilities of the armed forces extensively. Accordingly, Greece will buy 18 Rafale fighter jets, four frigates, navy helicopters and missiles on an urgent basis. At the same time, Greece will add 15,000 military personnel to its forces and defence industry will be provided additional funding. Last week, Greece revealed its assertive intentions as it made military deployments near Turkey at an Island, which is recognised as the Demilitarized Zone for almost seven decades.
International surveys and reports revealed large deposits of natural oil and gas in the Mediterranean. The reserves lie within the maritime boundaries of Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey although Ankara has already undertaken activities to usurp as many areas as possible. Turkey has asserted its sole ownership to areas which fall under the maritime boundaries of Greece and Cyprus. Last year, Turkey signed an agreement with Libya to consolidate its claims. The country then issued an international maritime alert called Navtex in the previous month and sent its research vessel Oruc Reis along with two auxiliary ships to the Mediterranean for exploration.
Turkey even snubbed appeals from Greece and the European Union (EU) over the move and forcefully commenced oil and gas drilling in the Mediterranean. The country has sent extensive military deployments to the region to back its operations and is conducting back to back military drills. Also, Turkish President Erdogan has begun to threaten the European nations with references to historical events. However, tensions in the region have sharply escalated with Turkey’s military build-up and air activities of fighter jets in the Mediterranean Sea.
Given recent events, the Greek Prime Minister’s announcement has made evident the country is intensifying its stand along with France and the European nations. Prime Minister Kiriyakos Mitsotakis has announced undertaking an independent program to expand capabilities of the armed forces. ‘The time has come to reinforce the armed forces… these initiatives constitute a robust programme that will become a national shield’, the Greek Prime Minister appealed. Greece plans to procure 18 French Rafale fighter jets, four frigates and navy helicopters, anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes and advanced air force missiles. The country is said to have made the announcement on defence preparedness after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. Apart from the defence deal, Greece will also be expanding its armed forces which includes adding 15,000 soldiers.
As Greece and France prepare for retaliatory action against Turkey, President Erdogan has once again started issuing threats to the two countries. President Erdogan openly threatened the French President as he said, ‘Mr Macron, you’re going to have more problems with me. You lack historical knowledge. Therefore, France cannot give Turkey a lesson in humanity. Macron, you already don’t have much time. You’re on your last legs. Stop trying to play games with Turkey and its people.’ The threat has drawn a reaction from the US.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that ‘Turkey’s actions in the Mediterranean Sea are highly concerning. Enemies may seek advantage of the situation if the military tensions rise in the region. Therefore, security and energy-related disputes need to be resolved diplomatically.’