As Turkey persists in what is seen as a strategy of escalating tensions, Greece continues to closely monitor Ankara’s moves in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean and at the Evros land border, seeking to convey a strong message that there will be no letup in the defense of its sovereign rights and borders.
Already in the last 24 hours, after multiple waves of escalation by Turkey on land, in the sea and in the air, the Defense Ministry and the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) have issued instructions for Greek forces to adhere to the rules of engagement and withdrawal where necessary. The purpose is to ensure that the armed forces assist the work of the country’s police and border guards.
There has been constant tension at Evros, especially at the Kastanies-Pazarkule border crossing, after a Greek border guard vehicle came under fire on Wednesday from the Turkish side of the border while on patrol and Turkish F-16s flew over Greek territory.
In the eastern Aegean, the Hellenic Navy units that had been initially deployed to intercept refugees and migrants from Turkey have now been moved to Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Kos and Symi, leaving the coast guard to deal with the task. The navy units will only intervene if necessary.
At the same time, the navy is also keeping close tabs on the large-scale Turkish exercise that began on Friday in the Aegean, from the north all the way down to Kastellorizo in the south. The exercise had not been included in those announced during the talks on confidence building measures between the two countries, and was only made known in the last 10 days. In addition, Turkey has reserved the entire area north of Crete for underwater exercises.