In recent weeks, tension has been escalating in the Aegean Sea amid a Greek and Turkish argument over energy reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. In July, Turkey dispatched a research vessel called the Oruç Reis to conduct drilling operations in the disputed waters between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
The Greek armed forces have been on high alert in the region, closely monitoring the movements of the Turkish warships escorting the Turkish survey vessel, while Greek diplomacy has been pressing its allies in the EU and NATO to reel in Turkey.
Posturing and aggressive non-lethal military encounters are nothing new for the two NATO members, though recent incidents and rhetoric have led to mounting concern in the alliance as well as the European Union.
Ankara has proven impervious to calls to de-escalate tensions and ease off its actions, revealing it is determined to follow through with its plans of conducting energy surveys off the coast of the Greek island.
Military encounters between both countries have turned violent in the past, notably in 1996 when a Greek Mirage 2000 fighter jet shot down a Turkish F-16, resulting in the death of one of its crew members. Another serious incident occurred in 2006 when Greek and Turkish F-16s collided with the Turkish pilot surviving and his Greek counterpart losing his life.
As tensions grow, the following infographic compares the military strength of both countries using several sources including an interesting overview compiled by The Drive.
Turkey is likely to be afforded an advantage in any clash due to its recent experience in the Syria conflict, though it may also be weakened by the 2016 coup attempt which saw it lose a significant number of experienced officers, particularly from its air force.
Procurement of Rafale ratified by large majority by Greek parliament
The Greek Parliament Plenum overwhelmingly ratified the contract for the procurement of 18 Rafale fighter jets Thursday.
Specifically, the parliamentary groups of ND, SYRIZA, Movement for Change, and Hellenic Solution voted in favour of the acquisition of the fighters, while the Communist party (KKE) and far-leftist MeRA25 voted against it.
Closing the session, the Minister of National Defence, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, noted that “the national delegation sent a strong message. “Everyone expressed the positive sentiment of strengthening the Armed Forces and most showed it through their affirmative vote.”
“It is crucial on matters of national issues to join forces and in this case, we succeeded,” commented parliamentary spokesman Giannis Vroutsis. Major opposition party SYRIZA reconsidered its initial stance, leading to a broader consensus.
During the discussion of the bill in the Plenary Session, the rapporteur of the official opposition, George Tsipras, stated that “under normal circumstances, no party, let alone SYRIZA, could co-sign a contract that is filled with holes and may create major problems for the protection of the public interest in the future.
But because we are not ND we will vote in favour. We are voting in favour with huge reservations and abdicating any responsibility for what this contract may give birth to in the public interest. We are voting in favour, provided that the country’s strategic defence planning is not overturned,” he said, adding that his party’s “presence” in the Armed Forces budget “was done because we have absolutely no confidence in you.”
It is recalled that in the competent parliamentary committee, Mr. Tsipras called on the leadership of the Ministry of National Defence to return the contract to the French as unacceptable in order to change the conditions related to the payment and receipt schedule.
You will find more infographics at Statista