Greece-Turkey tension: Greece announces military boost


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image CaptionGreek Prime Minister announced plans to increase the number of troops

Greece has announced an important arms purchase as tensions coincide with the rise of neighboring Turkey.

The new weapons include 18 French Rafale fighter jets, four frigates and four naval helicopters, Prime Minister Kyrikos Mitsotakis said.

The country also plans to increase the size of its armed forces by 15,000 troops over the next five years.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey have increased over gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey recently sent ships to conduct seismic research that intensified the dispute with Greece over the area.

Two NATO allies have claimed maritime rights, leading to fears that tensions may escalate.

The European Union, of which Greece is a member, has previously called for negotiations.

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Mr. Mitsotakis said on Saturday, “The time has come to strengthen the armed forces … These initiatives are a strong program that will become a national shield.”

The spending will also include new anti-tank weapons, naval torpedoes and air force missiles.

The new spending is the largest in two decades, news agency AFP reported.

France has backed Greece in a dispute with Turkey, and earlier this week President Emanuel Macron stressed the importance of being “clear and firm” with Turkey, which he accused of “unacceptable behavior”.

What is the background?

In July, Turkey announced that it was sending it to conduct a drilling survey in waters close to the Greek island of Kastelorizo, a short distance from the coast of southwestern Turkey.

Image copyrightReuters
image CaptionOruch Reis is rescued by Turkish Navy ships in a photo provided by the Ministry of Defense

In response, Greece conducted naval exercises with several EU countries and the United Arab Emirates.

Tensions between the two countries have increased on several other issues, including the crossing of the divided island of Cyprus and migrants from Greece to Turkey.

Greece also opposed Turkey’s recent decision to convert the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul back into a mosque. It was an Orthodox Christian church for centuries.

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Media captionCyprus has been a divided island for over 40 years.

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