Athens is reportedly on full alert even for the most extreme scenario on the part of Ankara, given that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under pressure domestically and resorting to increasingly incendiary rhetoric.
This concern is further augmented by the concentration of refugees and migrants on the Turkish coast, mainly in the areas opposite Chios and Samos. There have been reports about the growing presence of boats in these areas that could be used by migrants arriving on the coast.
The influx of refugees and migrants on the Turkish coast, combined with the rhetoric of Turkish government officials, has led diplomatic and military circles in Athens to dust off previous crisis scenarios.
These include the possibility of migrants landing on an island that Ankara says is of “indefinite ownership” or nearby and Turkey launching an operation to collect them under the pretext that the area is under Ankara’s responsibility for search and rescue.
Turkey has said it challenges the sovereignty of eastern Aegean islands that are militarized.
Refugees and migrants have often been used by Turkey as a tool of pressure on Greece, which in this case often faces not only the geopolitical but also the humanitarian dimension of the issue.
In light of this Greece’s armed forces in the Eastern Aegean continue to move on the basis of an increased degree of vigilance and readiness, in order to react if necessary. However, so far, the main military activity of the Turkish Armed Forces has been the Efes 2022 military exercise which is unfolding within the borders of Turkish territorial waters and without interference, in some cases due to the US participation in it.
Meanwhile, Athens has been active diplomatically to promote Greece’s positions and highlight Turkish aggression. Last week the Foreign Ministry supplied Greece’s embassies and representations abroad with 16 maps from 1972 until the present that show how Turkey’s claims have changed to seek influence over more than half the Aegean Sea.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also briefed foreign leaders, and showed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz a map of the “Blue Homeland” doctrine espoused by Ankara, which envisions Turkish influence over large swaths of the eastern Mediterranean, highlighting Turkish revisionism.