President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday sought to send another firm message to Ankara amid increasingly hostile rhetoric from across the Aegean as a Greek military readiness exercise got under way in the southern Aegean.
“Greece will strongly support its borders and those of Europe,” Pavlopoulos said during a visit to the Salamina naval base, repeating that “there are no gray zones” in the Aegean. Defending “international legitimacy... is not simply our right, it is also our duty to the international community,” he said.
The president, who was accompanied by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, once again called on Turkey to respect international laws and treaties, noting that the only issue of dispute between the two countries relates to the delineation of the continental shelf.
Pavlopoulos said he observed the “readiness of the country’s navy to defend our national sovereignty and borders, and consequently the borders of the European Union.”
Kammenos had ordered the one-day exercise, code-named Pyrpolitis (Fire-raiser), to be carried out in the Aegean, northwest of Rhodes, following a long meeting with military officials on Tuesday night, during which the recent activity of Turkish armed forces in the region was discussed.
The exercise involved a Hellenic Navy frigate, assault and transport helicopters and a Zubr military hovercraft carrying members of the special forces, and also saw the participation of Hellenic Air Force planes.
The aim of the exercise was to test the readiness of Greek armed forces in a crisis scenario, such as the need to recapture an islet. It was completed successfully at the end of the day without any signs of Turkish transgressions of Greek air space or territorial waters.
However, Turkey’s National Security Council issued a stern message on Wednesday, toward Greece as well as the European Union and US, declaring that it will not give up its claims in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and northern Syria, where Turkish troops have occupied Afrin.
According to Skai, the council said Ankara’s demands would not change and suggested that Greece was not behaving like a good neighbor.