Prickly relations with Turkey call for Greece to bolster armed forces - Kathimerini

Greece must bolster its armed forces and pursue EU-level action and cooperation with countries like the United States, France, Israel and the United Arab Emirates in managing its relationship with Turkey, Greek newspaper Katherimini said.

Talks on confidence building measures between Greek and Turkish military and diplomatic delegations, which began on Monday, are taking place under the shadow of Ankara’s apparent intention to ignore the existence of Greek islands and push forward with exploratory drilling in east Mediterranean, it said in an editorial.

Relations between Turkey and Greece have been tense as Turkey stepped up efforts to exploit the hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean by sending two drillships to the waters off Cyprus. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north part of the island, which is only recognised by Turkey, should have a fair share in the natural resources of Cyprus.

Greece also maintains strong objections to a maritime agreement signed between Ankara and the U.N.-recognised Libyan government in Tripoli in November, which makes Turkey and Libya maritime neighbours and ignores some Greek territorial areas, including Crete.

This week, defence officials from both sides are looking to solve disagreements in the Aegean and the Mediterranean. 

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s action don’t even allow for "Greek politicians and public opinion shapers who sincerely want a Greek-Turkish rapprochement to highlight the positive aspects of the relationship and take bold steps toward an understanding with Turkey,’’ it said.

Athens, in the meantime, it said, must maximise Greece’s deterrent capabilities and cooperate with allied countries to lay the groundwork for concrete measures that will have economic consequences for Turkey.

Confidence is not built on plans to explore for hydrocarbons off the coast of Crete, Kathimerini said, nor the continuous violations of Greek airspace.