Referring to what Greece sees as deliberate escalations of tension by Turkey, the chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Christos Christodoulou, expressed concern Monday about “the permanent danger” of an accident in the Aegean.
In a press briefing, Christodoulou said Greece’s armed forces are working so that “such conditions [leading to an accident] are not created.”
He added that “we cannot respond to every statement” that is made by Ankara, which, he said, is pursuing a strategy of tension.
Christodoulou also referred extensively to Greece’s army capabilities and said that a 3-million-euro study is being drafted on the feasibility of the country’s acquisition of US-made F-35 fighter jets.
At the same time, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar warned that his country will uphold its rights and that it is ready to defend itself.
“Our country will defend itself even if they try to take a pebble. We are ready to smash heads,” Akar told a Turkish Air Force swearing-in ceremony Monday.
However, he also noted that Turkey wants dialogue and referred to imminent multilevel contacts between Athens and Ankara which begin on Friday with the foreign ministries of the two countries.
Akar said he hoped that these contacts will lead to a peaceful resolution of problems and that Turkey wants to avoid provocations. Still, he warned that if any provocations are instigated, Turkey would respond, although he did not mention Greece by name.
Meanwhile, the multinational Iniohos 2019, Greece’s largest military exercise, entered its eighth day Manday. It is mainly taking place in Greek skies and covers much of the Athens Flight Information Region.