Greece and Turkey could provoke the first war between NATO members. Tensions rose between the two forces

In recent years, Connections between Athens and Ankara Some have deteriorated to the point where they believe war may break out among themselves.

Both states occupy strategically important territory in Southeast Europe and have two of NATO’s largest armies, making the stakes of a potential conflict extremely high.

Due to lingering tensions with Turkey, Greece is one of the few NATO members to keep defense spending above the alliance’s 2 percent of GDP target. In 2022, Greece’s defense spending as a share of GDP was the highest in the bloc, notes Business Insider.

Greece places particular emphasis on its air force and navy

While the bulk of Greece’s defense spending has traditionally gone toward personnel costs, significant equipment purchases under its current administration, which took office in July 2019, have made Greece one of the alliance’s biggest hardware spenders. (20% of NATO members’ defense spending should go towards equipment purchases and upgrades)

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Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Erdogan

Greece places a particularly strong emphasis on its air force and navy.

As of 2020, it has purchased 24 French-made Rafale jets, 4.5 generation multi-role fighters, which are considered more capable and technologically superior than any Turkish aircraft. Athens is upgrading 84 of its F-16s to the latest Viper configuration and has applied to join the F-35 program.

Greece plans to buy seven MH-60R anti-submarine warfare helicopters and deploy a version of Israel’s Iron Dome system on its islands in the eastern Aegean. The system is designed to counter Turkey’s large fleet of drones.

On the naval front, Greece has purchased three FDI HN frigates from France, with an option for a fourth. It is in the final stages of selecting four more Corvettes for its already sizeable fleet.

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Greece maintains the largest tank force among NATO’s European members – albeit some of the older models – and one of the largest artillery forces on the continent.

Turkey has the second largest tank and artillery force in NATO

Turkey, on the other hand, has the second largest army and the second largest tank and artillery force in NATO after the United States.

The Turkish Air Force is comparable to Greece’s, but lags in the sector due to Ankara’s expulsion from the F-35 program, the US blocking Turkey’s request to upgrade the F-16 and the dismissal of hundreds of Turkish pilots following a coup attempt. In 2016.

However, the Turkish drone industry and the aircraft it produces are among the best in NATO. TB-2 Bayraktar drones Made in Turkey received significant attention for their role in the war in Ukraine.

Turkey has one of the largest navies in NATO with a significant number of warships and a large landing fleet. Ankara plans to upgrade its fleet with at least four and as many as seven anti-aircraft warships to replace the old ships.

As Greece has four Type 214 submarines, the Turkish Navy is also awaiting the delivery of six German-made Type 214 submarines that could boost the naval balance in the Aegean Sea.

Turkey’s defense spending is significantly lower than Greece’s on a percentage basis, but Turkey benefits from having a larger economy and plans annual increases in defense spending until 2024. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo, center/right) It recently announced an additional $26 billion in defense spending through 2023.

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This concentration of firepower would make any conflict more dangerous, and a local crisis could quickly escalate.

Greek Army Chief General Konstantinos Floros said in 2020 that “no crisis” would be “geographically isolated”, a reversal of Greece’s previous policy.

Greece and Turkey have been close to war in recent times

The two states clashed during Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and a conflict was averted during the Imia crisis in 1996. In 2020, Greek and Turkish warships clashed during a conflict in the eastern Mediterranean.

Both countries have lost fighter jets and pilots in clashes in the eastern Aegean Sea, and each side accuses them of overflying their territory in the area.

Their disputes include a divided Cyprus and the arming of migrants, but most of their tensions center on islands in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Citing the convention, it claims its hundreds of islands in the Aegean have territorial sea and exclusive economic zone rights. Turkey is not a signatory to UNCLOS and claims that the islands do not have territorial rights similar to the mainland.

Turkey’s parliament has approved a declaration of war if Greece expands its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea from its current 6 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles, as allowed by UNCLOS.

Turkey is demanding that Greece demilitarize the eastern Aegean islands, arguing that Athens has violated treaty limits on military equipment that can be stationed on the islands. Athena says the equipment is for defensive purposes.

The European Union and the United States side with Greece on the islands issue

Erdogan said in September that Greece “occupies” the islands and that “we will do what is necessary” when necessary. Prime Minister of Greece Kiriakos Mitsotakis (Photo, center/left) A few days later he announced that there would be no war, but that if Ankara attacked “it would receive an absolutely devastating response”.

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threats With both Erdogan and Mitsotakis holding elections next summer, both officials have political ambitions.

Observers say NATO is capable of handling tensions as it has done in the past, but the misunderstanding between the alliance’s two most important members looks set to continue. (The EU and the US support Greece on the islands issue, which Turkey considers supportive).

Political dialogue has largely been muted, but the two countries’ defense ministers met on October 14 during a NATO summit in an attempt to defuse the situation.

Later, the Turkish Defense Minister said, “It is important to resolve the dispute without the intervention of a third party.” The Greek defense minister said that “as long as there is a threat to regional sovereignty, it renders any attempt at communication useless.”

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