Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
By Vassilis Nedos
The improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey and the sharp decrease in tensions is not only at the diplomatic level but also, and almost in tandem, with the operational situation on the ground.
In addition to the opening of channels of communication, both sides have also reached an informal agreement to limit military exercises in the Aegean to the absolute minimum.
More specifically, until the electoral landscape is clear and the electoral cycle in the two countries is completed, there will be no large-scale naval exercises, with the exception of NATO or other multinational cooperations. Accordingly, the next stages of a series of Greek naval drills whose first annual legs were completed in mid-February in the western Aegean (Myrtoo, Western Cyclades, western Crete) will either not take place at all until the end of the summer or will be limited in order to maintain the capabilities of crews.
In addition to the opening of channels of communication, both sides have also reached an informal agreement to limit military exercises in the Aegean to the absolute minimum
Tellingly, this year’s international air exercise Iniochos 2023 will not involve forces from the US and Israel – i.e. two countries that directly or indirectly wish to contribute to the reduction of Greek-Turkish tensions.
This informal moratorium, which is expected to extend throughout the summer period, benefits both sides for different reasons.
For Greece, it will allow time for its military naval units to enter a maintenance process, after being on sustained standby for almost three years since the crisis with Turkey’s Oruc Reis research vessels.
A total of 12 Navy ships are on permanent duty (in the Aegean or on missions outside Greece).
This is why Chief of the General Staff Konstantinos Floros has issued an order for the gradual start of maintenance work on the fleet’s ships, in order to give “breathing space” to systems that operate constantly and under all kinds of conditions.
On the Turkish side, over 80% of the fleet is centered in the bays of Iskenderun and Mersin, with an entirely non-military mission, namely to service the needs of earthquake-affected residents (care, transportation of critical goods etc).
Meanwhile, the fourth round of the Greek-Turkish dialogue on the so-called positive agenda on economy and trade will take place in Ankara on Wednesday.