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Tensions between Greece and Turkey: Greece declares military impetus



Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivers annual speech on state

image copyrightReuters

caption of the imageThe Greek prime minister has announced plans to increase the number of troops

Greece has announced a significant arms purchase as tensions with neighboring Turkey rise.

The new weapons include 18 French Rafale fighters, four frigates and four naval helicopters, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

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

Tensions between Greece and Turkey have erupted over gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey recently sent seismic vessels to exacerbate a territorial dispute with Greece.

The two NATO allies have competing claims to maritime rights, raising fears that tensions could escalate further.

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

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“It is time to strengthen the armed forces … these initiatives represent a stable program that will become a national shield,” Mr Mitsotakis said on Saturday.

The costs will also include new anti-tank weapons, naval torpedoes and Air Force missiles.

The new costs are the largest in two decades, according to AFP.

France backed Greece in its dispute with Turkey, and earlier this week President Emmanuel 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 it was sending a research vessel to drill in waters off the Greek island of Kastelorizo, a short distance from the coast of southwestern Turkey.

image copyrightReuters
caption of the imageReis Oruc escorted by Turkish naval ships in a photo provided by the Ministry of Defense

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

Tensions between the two countries have been strained by several other issues, including the divided island of Cyprus and the passage of migrants to Greece from Turkey.

Greece also opposed Turkey’s recent decision to turn the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul into a mosque. It has been an Orthodox Christian cathedral for centuries.

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media captionCyprus has been a divided island for more than 40 years.

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