Athens/Ankara: As Turkish ships arrived at a distance of merely 14 km from the Greek coastline, the Greek Navy immediately issued a maritime alert. The Greek Defence Ministry has informed that a protective wall has been erected around their islands in the Aegean Sea. Greece has also deployed 60 warships and vessels to keep a close tab on Turkey’s movements. A war may therefore spark off between Turkey and Greece in the next few days.
In August, Turkey had issued the NAXTEX alert and sent research ship Oruc Reis along with two auxiliary ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Greece had then warned Turkey to immediately stop illegal activities that were threatening the peace and stability in the region. The US, European Union (EU) and NATO have denounced Turkish actions. Also, the US and European nations are supporting Greece and had begun to pressurise Turkey. As a result, Turkey had pulled back its ships from the Mediterranean in the last month and initiated discussions with Greece.
In the last week, however, by sending its ships back in the region, Turkey appears to have provoked Greece. After issuing a NAVTEX alert, Turkey sent the Oruc Reis along with Ataman and Cengiz Han ships close to the Greek Island of Kastellorizo. The three vessels were said to remain operational in the area till October 22. Nevertheless, Turkey has now announced of extending its expedition till October 27.
The Turkish activities have prompted Greece to step up its movements. On Wednesday, Greece held a meeting with Cyprus and Egypt, wherein it severely criticised Turkey. In a joint statement, the three nations warned Turkey against its activities in the Mediterranean, asking it to stop them and accept the proposal for negotiations with Greece on determining boundaries. Next, the Greek Navy issued a code orange alert and sent its warships close to the Turkish territory. Greek warships were instructed to surround and stand guard at Kastellorizo as well as other Greek islands in the vicinity. They have been ordered to counter any move by Turkey near the islands. A Greek official explained that the vigil was being exercised since Turkey was found to have sent warships and submarines along with its research ship.
Turkey’s expansionist activities and the aggressive deployments made by Greece in response have strengthened the possibility of ongoing tensions sparking off a war in the Mediterranean. Because both Greece and Turkey are NATO member nations, the potential conflict may intensely complicate the situation.