Greece will bolster its military with new armament programmes, a boost to manpower and the development of the country’s defence industry, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Monday.
Turkey and Greece are currently in a standoff over territorial claims to natural gas and oil reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Political and military tensions between the NATO allies have intensified since Ankara sent the navy-escorted Oruç Reis to a disputed area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete on Aug. 10. Athens responded to the move by sending naval and air units to shadow the Oruç Reis and both sides have conducted military exercises in the area, creating a situation at risk of escalating into a direct confrontation.
“The Turkish leadership is unleashing, on a near daily basis, threats of war and makes provocative statements against Greece,” the Associated Press cited Petsas as saying. “We respond with political, diplomatic and operational readiness, determined to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereign rights.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be announcing details of the plans to upgrade the country’s military during his annual state of the economy speech on Saturday, the spokesman said.
“We are in contact with friendly countries in order to reinforce the equipment of our armed forces,” Petsas said.
Last week, Greece raised 2.5 billion euros ($2.96 billion) in a bond auction as the country sought to increase military spending and raise funds for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to AP.
Greek weapons purchases may include French-made Rafale fighter jets and at least one French frigate, AP said citing local media. Petsas said Mitsotakis is due to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union Mediterranean countries in Corsica.
Turkey is “either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or in the field with painful experiences,” Petsas said on Monday.