Air and sea exercises in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean from February 27 until March 3 announced by Turkey are reportedly a source of renewed concern for Athens given the recent tension in bilateral relations.
What’s more, the name of the exercise, Mavi Vatan – translated in English as Blue Motherland – was the term used last month by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar when referring to a 462,000 square meter area in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black seas that Ankara is monitoring.
“We will never allow any steps and faits accomplis to be taken despite of Turkey in our blue motherland,” he had said.
The timing of the exercise is also sensitive, given that the anniversary of the Imia crisis in the eastern Aegean – which almost led to war between Greece and Turkey in 1996 – is at the end of January.
Furthermore, Greek observers are also concerned that the tense domestic situation in Turkey could also prompt Ankara to divert attention by adopting an even more aggressive stance in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
A telling example of Turkey’s position was a folk song recited recently by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laced with anti-Greek sentiment during a visit to Izmir.