Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Greece about the militarization of islands in the Aegean Sea during the country’s annual military exercises this month. As one of the largest series of war games in Ankara, the EFES-2022 exercise involved approximately 10,000 Turkish troops and 37 nations. The joint military exercise involved Turkish navy, air force and ground forces.

On June 9, the last day of the exercise, Erdogan used provocative rhetoric to “warn” his NATO allies, creating tension with Greece. Relations between Athens and Ankara as two nations have been strained for decades Argument Maritime borders, airspace and territorial sovereignty. Although Turkey and Greece resumed talks last year after a five-year hiatus to reduce tensions, little progress has been made and differences still exist between the two NATO members.

Demonstration of military exercise strength

This year, 37 nations, including the United States, France, Pakistan, Italy and Azerbaijan, took part in Turkey’s annual joint military exercise. According to a report released by Newsweek, “An Italian frigate, Libyan Navy gunboat LNS SHAFAKH,” and other platforms “USS Arlington (LPD-24) with US Navy’s amphibious landing platform” participated in the exercises. 37 member exercise Included Simulations involving artillery fire, evacuation efforts, search and rescue operations, and air strikes. The month-long exercise began on May 9 and ended with a speech by the President of Turkey.

“We call on Greece to suspend arms embargoes on non-military status islands and to act in accordance with international agreements.” Erdogan Added“I’m not kidding, I’m serious. This nation is determined. ” Ankara accuses Athens of violating treaties guaranteeing its neutrality by deploying troops in Dodecanese, a group of islands off the coast of Turkey. Erdogan’s expansionist ambitions, complemented by regular violations of Greek airspace by Turkish forces, are a hostile behavior that proves appropriate for his defensive approach.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey

In recent years, Greece has sought support from the international community to counter Turkey’s increasing actions. America and Greece Signed A mutual defense cooperation agreement in 2021 that renewed the long-term defense alliance. As a result of the agreement, U.S. Increased Its access to Greek bases in the eastern Mediterranean, along with other NATO members, and enhanced security.

The result has angered Erdogan, who has accused the United States and other European countries of helping Athens build an illegal military base. A few days before Erdogan’s cautionary speech, the Turkish president stopped talking to his Greek counterpart because “Violation of airspace. ”

The end of EFES-2022 exercises also coincided with Erdogan’s threats to launch offensive action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. This month, the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) group ended Simulation Preparing troops for a possible fight against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Erdogan considers the militia to be affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Turkish-appointed terrorist organization. Under the leadership of President Erdogan, Turkey has plunged itself into a number of regional conflicts. Erdogan’s rhetoric against Kurds and Greeks is now entirely symbolic, but the possibility of a dynamic conflict remains.

Maya Carlin 19 is the Middle East defense editor with FortyFive. She is also an analyst at the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in several publications, including The National Interest, the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel.