Greece says it will strengthen its military with new weapons, armies and defense industry, raising concerns about the open conflict between the two NATO allies as a tense situation with neighboring Turkey.
Ankara is currently facing a battle with Greece and Cyprus over the right to explore for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Turkey have deployed naval and air forces to assert their rival claims in the region.
On Monday, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petasas said, “Turkey’s leadership is still threatening war and threatening war.”
“We have responded with political, diplomatic and operational readiness, determined to do whatever it takes to protect our sovereign rights.”
Petsas said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis would unveil plans to upgrade the country’s military during his annual economic speech on Saturday.
“We are working with friendly countries to strengthen the equipment of our armed forces,” Petsas said. Last week, Green raised 2.5 billion euros (৯ 2.96 billion) in bond auctions as the country sought to increase military spending and raise funds for businesses affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
Greek media reported that the purchase could include a French-made raffle fighter jet and at least a French frigate. Mitsotakis will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting in the European Union’s Corsica in the Mediterranean on Thursday, Petsas said.
Last Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece not to enter into talks on the disputed East Mediterranean territorial claim or face the consequences.
“They will either understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or with harmful experience in the field,” he said.
On Monday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey was the only regional country that “threatens its neighbors with war.”
After meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Everest Bartolomeo, Dendias said Greece was “always ready for a dialogue with Turkey, but a dialogue based on international law, and the only pending issue – the demarcation of the continental shelf.”
However, he said, “dialogue is unthinkable under threatening conditions.”
Greece and Turkey have been on the brink of war since the mid-1900s, with multiple exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.
The current controversy escalated when Turkey sent a seismic research ship, Aruk Race, with warships to store oil and gas between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, claiming that Athens had its own continental shelf.
Greece sends its own warships to the region and warns its armed forces.
EU leaders say they will decide at a meeting in Turkey on September 24-25, which could include sanctions against Ankara.
Cyprus is divided into Greek Cypriot-ruled south – an EU member state – and Turkish Cypriot into the north.
19 Since the invasion of Turkey4, Turkey has deployed thousands of troops north of the island, following a coup led by military rulers in Greece.