Although Turkey is on the verge of bankruptcy and joining the IMF, it continues to spend huge sums on defence equipment and is constantly announcing new investment programs in the development of its defence industry.
In recent years, Turkey has made it clear that it wants to revise the borders that have emerged in the wider region since the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
Turkey is already in Syria and Libya, and it is only a matter of time before it conducts underwater surveys south of Crete, in which Greece has sovereignty and exploitation rights.
Turkey is also a country with a population of over 80 million with a GDP of about $750 billion, while Greece is a country with a population of 10 million and a GDP of about $200 billion.
Turkey spent more than $22 billion on defence in 2019, while Greece spent less than $5 billion. In 2009, Greece spent about $9 billion and Turkey about $13 billion.
The potential difference between the two countries in 2020 is evident in all areas, from the population, the size of the economy and therefore the financial resources, to defence spending.
It is therefore logical that Turkey wants to turn this power difference into a political and economic impact in the region with tangible economic consequences for its population.
The situation seems particularly critical for Greece and that is why we need to be careful.
Greece needs to develop a multifaceted effort to neutralise Turkey’s core advantages of effective deterrent military power.
These fronts are as follows:
A) The creation of a front of counterattacking local forces that could balance Turkish power.
Several steps have been taken on this issue with the creation of the Greek, Israeli, Egyptian and Cypriot fronts.
B) The confrontation with another great power that has competitive interests with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
In this matter, it is in the best interests of France to work together and there is room for improvement. The difference in military and political power between France and Turkey is significantly in favour of the former.
C) The exploitation of Greece’s status as a member of the EU by invoking the “vague” but obligation of solidarity between members. The exploitation of Greece’s strategic role as an EU border country.
D) The need for stability in NATO, in which Greece and Turkey participate.
Trump’s allies, but especially the United States, must understand that if they let Turkey seek hegemony in the region, a rift between Greece and Turkey will be the most likely outcome, and this will cause chaos in the alliance.
It should be clear that Greece is a member of the alliance as long as it can guarantee its integrity and ensure its pursuit of outstanding issues.
E) Greece needs deterrent power. What is paradoxical, however, is that the defence doctrine of our country in recent decades has not been adapted to the demographic and economic data of the two countries, but remains in line with the data of the 1950s and 1920s when the countries had similar power.
Greece cannot increase defence spending to 20 and 30 billion a year, as Turkey does. Consequently, it cannot continue to compete with it by buying very expensive planes and ships.
Countries like Greece can have effective deterrent power by investing in ballistic and anti-ballistic missiles where there are revolutionary developments.
Ankara is about 500 km from Mytilene and Turkish generals and politicians will have to decide in the future knowing that there are lines in the Greek islands with a few hundred missiles with the required range.
I follow the experts who analyse how many Greek warships have to go south of Crete if Turkish units appear there. A few missiles in Crete will be enough to prevent any Greek ships from appearing and hit any target as far as Libya.
Missiles that cost a few tens of millions can make use of any more warships and planes that cost from a few hundred million to a few billion euros.
Of course, ships and planes and special forces and electronic warfare systems are also needed, but the peak of a deterrent defensive war must be different.
If one looks at the Greek arsenal, one will find that it is particularly poor in ballistic missiles, modern torpedoes, and modern “smart” missiles, while there are a number of very expensive systems of dubious effectiveness in relation to the two countries’ aspirations and balance of power.
There are modern approaches to defensive strategies that claim that technological advances in missiles make investments in large surface vessels and very expensive manned aircraft of dubious effectiveness.
What is urgently needed is next to the committee under Nobel Laureate Mr. Pissaridis who will plan the economic reconstruction of the country, a similar committee of experts that will redesign the country’s defence doctrine.