Greece is in advanced talks with Israel to purchase missile systems to use against Turkey, local media reported
The deal for Spike non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles produced by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is expected to be signed soon, the Greek news outlet Newsport.gr reported.
A total of 27 systems costing 370 million euros ($374.8 million) will start to arrive in the country as early as 2023, it noted.
The news outlet said the missile systems will be deployed to ground units stationed in Greece’s northeastern Evros region near the Maritsa (Meriç) River bordering Turkey and in the Aegean islands.
It added that American AH-64 attack helicopters and Mark V patrol boats recently provided by the United States will be equipped with Spike NLOS missiles.
Greece recently also signed multiple big-ticket arms deals with Israel for the purchase of drones, with France for the purchase of Rafael warplanes, and with the United States for the upgrading of its F-16 fighter jets to the latest Viper configuration.
More recently, Greece submitted a letter of interest to the United States to purchase at least 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets.
Despite saying that it has no intention of entering into an arms race with its neighbor and NATO ally Turkey, Greece continues to carry out an ambitious rearmament program for its armed forces. Greece’s burgeoning arms program is designed to counter the protection of Turkish interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has often warned Greece against indulging in an arms race, offering instead to resolve all outstanding issues, including in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, through dialogue.
Turkey will not relinquish its rights in the Aegean Sea and will not hesitate to use its powers stemming from international agreements, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last month as he attended the Efes-2022 military exercise held on Aegean coasts.
Commenting on the resurgence of long-running tensions between the Aegean Sea neighbors, he said that Greece should stop arming the islands with nonmilitary status and abide by the international agreements.
“I warn Greece to avoid dreams, acts and statements that will result in regret. Come to your senses,” he said in a televised speech as he observed the Turkish military exercises on the coast of western Izmir province.
“Turkey will not renounce its rights in the Aegean and will not back down from using rights that are established by international agreements when it comes to arming islands.”
Greece is violating treaties by arming islands in the Aegean, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said, warning that the sovereignty of those islands will be questioned if Athens fails to demilitarize them.
Greece has been building a military presence on the Aegean islands in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Paris Treaty, he said, adding that the islands were ceded to Greece on the condition that they are kept demilitarized.
Turkey in recent months has stepped up criticism of Greece stationing troops on islands in the eastern Aegean, near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from shore. These islands were required to be demilitarized under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, so any troops or weapons on the islands are strictly forbidden. Also, Turkey and Greece have traded accusations of airspace violations in recent months. Turkey is demanding that Greece demilitarize its eastern islands, maintaining the action is required under 20th-century treaties that ceded sovereignty of the islands to Greece. Turkish authorities say the Greeks have stationed troops on Aegean islands in violation of the peace treaties that followed World War I and World War II.
Greece continues to militarize islands in the eastern Aegean, in violation of both the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the Paris Treaty of 1947. Despite international agreements and treaties, Greece remains adamant about stationing its armed forces on eastern Aegean islands, especially the Dodecanese islands and small nearby islets, including islands and islets very close to Turkey’s western coast, many within sight of the shore.
Turkey and Greece are at odds over a number of issues, including competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, air space, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.
Tensions flared again last month when Erdoğan said Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him, accusing Mitsotakis of trying to block sales of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during a visit to the United States.