Greece has frozen plans for a next round of confidence building measures (CBMs) with Turkey at the level of defense ministries, following a barrage of Turkish overflights in the eastern Aegean. The talks have been postponed for the future, government sources said.
Meanwhile, Kathimerini understands that an order was given on Thursday to place anti-aircraft systems on the islands on alert, specifically Osa-K and ASRAD. About 10 days ago, Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) Chief Konstantinos Floros had spoken about the danger of continuous Turkish violations, and the possibility of an accident.
For its part, however, Turkey, through the statements of Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, constantly accuses Athens of provocations, saying that Greece is the one that is undertaking “unjust and illegal actions.”
Turkey’s decision to up the ante, beginning last week, came just six weeks after what was described as a positive meeting in Istanbul between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Not only has there been an escalation in the number of violations, but these have also been taking place over large Greek islands, such as Samos and Rhodes.
In response, the Foreign Ministry lodged two demarches, on Wednesday and Thursday, while Mitsotakis raised the issue with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“They must stop immediately,” was the message by Mitsotakis, referring to Turkey’s violations, stressing that Ankara’s behavior undermines the cohesion of NATO at a particularly critical time in the wider region.
During joint statements with his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin, Mitsotakis described Turkey’s behavior as “unacceptable,” while bemoaning that it undermines the progress made in his recent meeting with Erdogan.
Shortly afterward, government sources stressed that the CBMs had been put on ice.
Athens intends to raise the issue at all international fora, stressing further that Turkey is not in line with sanctions against Russia. Greece has already provided relevant briefing to EU, NATO, UN and ICAO officials as well as member-states of the UN Security Council.
For his part, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos expressed his dissatisfaction with his Turkish counterpart over the continuous violations. Kathimerini understands that the response by Akar was that “he will look into it.” The tension has also led the Defense Ministry to cancel the invitation to Turkey to participate in the NATO Tiger Meet exercise.