Greece and Turkey have mutually cancelled military exercises on each other’s national holiday this week, as a gesture of goodwill following a special NATO-sponsored meeting between the two defense ministers.
According to Turkish media, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos responded positively to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who proposed during a meeting of NATO defense ministers that Ankara and Athens revoke counter NAVTEX alerts regarding naval exercises this week.
Last week Stoltenberg hinted at Greece and Turkey having agreed to cancel “war games” on each other’s national holidays, signaling a possible ease of tensions between the two historic rivals.
Ankara revoked on Monday a NAVTEX that warned mariners about military drills on Wednesday, which is a national day celebrated by Greeks commemorating a rejection of an ultimatum during World War II
Ankara revoked on Monday a NAVTEX message that warned mariners about planned military drills on Wednesday, October 28, which is also OHI Day, a national day celebrated by Greeks commemorating a rejection of an Italian ultimatum during World War II.
Turkey issued the NAVTEX earlier this month in response to Athens issuing a similar warning for naval firing exercises on Thursday, October 29, which is also a Turkish national holiday commemorating the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Greek media said Athens announced on Monday it was canceling its military drills that were scheduled to take place on Thursday.
Both neighbours have been taking jabs at each other over conflicting claims to contested waters and hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, with Athens and Ankara also strongly disagreeing on delimiting their respective continental shelves.
The cancelation of the two NAVTEX was seen as a positive step but political and media pundits said it remained to be seen whether this would be a one-off deal or a path to further deescalating recent tensions.
NAVTEX wars, essentially warnings and counter warnings, have been issued regularly by the two countries, including notices to mariners to ignore a series of navigational telex messages as "unauthorized" and "out of jurisdiction" respectively.