Highlights

  • Tension between NATO allies Turkey and Greece rising
  • Fault-lines within anti-Russia NATO amid Ukraine war
  • Maritime boundary dispute main bone of contention

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Fighting within anti-Russia NATO alliance: Greece, Turkey tension rises amid Ukraine war

Turkey-Greece tension: the latest flashpoint occurred over Turkey and Azerbaijan's military exercise in which they reportedly simulated an attack on Greek islands.

As the Russia-Ukraine war reaches its 100th day, is another war about to break out in Europe? Russia's invasion of Ukraine might have shocked the world, but members of the anti-Russia NATO alliance are yet to put their differences behind.

Tension is continuing to rise between Greece and Turkey - neighbours and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Both countries are now flexing their military muscle, leading to worries that a fresh conflict might be on the cards.

The latest flashpoint occurred over Turkey and close ally Azerbaijan's military exercise. In the drills, the two forces reportedly simulated an attack on Greek islands. Pronews said that the scenario included training for going behind enemy lines through the sea, and attacking coastal military installations. Turkish fighter jets also flew in Greek airspace, as per reports.

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The bone of contention is mainly a maritime territory dispute. Ankara and Athens have overlapping Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ claims in the eastern Mediterranean. This impacts their energy exploration rights.

The other points of tension include Turkey's demand for demilitarisation of Greek islands. Meanwhile, Athens accuses Ankara of regular airspace violations. Greece is also expanding its steel wall along the border with Turkey amid tension over movement of refugees and migrants.

The tension has led to an arms race between the two nations. Greece is buying Rafale fighter jets, and Belharra navy frigates from France. Athens also in talks with USA's Lockheed Martin for F-35 fighter jets. Meanwhile, the US govt is pushing the Congress to sell F-16 fighter jets to the Turkish Air Force. Ankara is also trying to convince America to revive the F-35 deal which was cancelled as penalty for buying the Russian S-400 missile system.

With tension rising, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled diplomatic engagements with Greece, days after saying Mitsotakis "doesn't exist" for him. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "I told my foreign minister yesterday, and we broke off our high-level strategy council meetings with Greece. Don't you (Greece) learn any lessons from history? Where were you (Greece) in the past, and where are you (Greece) now? Then you (Greece) start crying and whining. Don't try to dance with Turkey."

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Greek Prime Minister had issued a warning to Turkey. Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, "if (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan thinks that I will not defend, you know, the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of Greece, and I will not make the case to the international audience that Turkey is behaving as a revisionist power, then he's wrong."

The Greece-Turkey tension is creating wider fault-lines within the NATO. Germany appealed to Turkey to "refrain from provocations" against NATO allies. Turkey called the statement "biased" and inconsistent with the "spirit of the alliance".

Now, all eyes are on senior partners in the alliance like the US, to see how a larger conflict is avoided.

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