Greece said it would strengthen its army with new weapons, troops, and the development of its defense industry as a tense standoff with neighboring Turkey has sparked concerns of open conflict between the two NATO allies.
Ankara is currently closed against Greece and Cyprus over rights to oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Greece and Turkey have deployed naval and air forces to claim their competitive claims in the region.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Godasas said on Monday, “The Turkish leadership makes, on an almost daily basis, threats of war and inflammatory statements against Greece.”
“We respond with political, diplomatic and operational readiness, determined to do what is necessary to protect our sovereign rights.”
Petsas said Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis would announce details of plans to upgrade the country’s military on Saturday during his annual State of the Economy speech.
“We are in touch with the Allies to strengthen our armed forces equipment,” Petes said. Last week, Greece raised 2.5 billion euros ($ 2.96 billion) in a bond auction as the country seeks to increase military spending and raise funds for businesses affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
Greek media have reported that the purchase may include a French-built Rafale fighter jet and at least one French frigate. Petsus said Mitsotakis would meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday to mark a meeting in Corsica of the Mediterranean countries of the European Union.
Last Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece to negotiate disputed eastern Mediterranean territorial claims or face the consequences.
“They are either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or with painful experiences 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”.
Speaking after a meeting with Maldives Foreign Minister Avarist Bartolo, Dendias said that Greece was always “ready to negotiate with Turkey, but a dialogue based on international law, and on the only pending issue – the delimitation of the continental shelf”. .
However, he said “negotiation is inconceivable under a threatened situation”.
Greece and Turkey have been on the verge of war thrice since the mid-1970s, including once exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.
The current dispute escalated when Turkey sent warships to the seismic research vessel Oruch Ris for the possibility of storing oil and gas in an area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, which claims Athens as its continental shelf .
Greece sent its warships to the area and put their armed forces on alert.
European Union leaders say they will decide on Turkey’s approach to be met on September 24-25, which may include sanctions against Ankara.
Cyprus is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run South – an EU member state – and the Turkish Cypriot North.
Turkey has deployed thousands of troops to the north of the island since the 1974 invasion, which was followed by a coup by military rulers in Greece.