Athens is on high alert amid Turkey’s daily escalation of tensions and fears of a new influx of migrants.
Greece is fully prepared for even the most extreme scenario from Ankara, given that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under domestic pressure and utilising increasingly inflammatory rhetoric.
This concern is worsened by the concentration of refugees and migrants on the Turkish coast, mainly in the areas opposite Chios and Samos. There were reports of a growing number of boats in these areas that incoming migrants could use
The influx of refugees and migrants to the Turkish coast, combined with the rhetoric of Turkish government officials, has forced diplomatic and military circles in Athens to dust off previous crisis scenarios.
These include the possibility of landing migrants on an island that Ankara says is in “perpetual ownership” or located nearby, and Turkey could launch a collection operation under the pretext that the area is under Ankara’s search and rescue operation. Turkey has said it is challenging the sovereignty of the eastern Aegean islands, which are militarised.
Against the background of the growing danger of the outbreak of a military conflict, Athens sharply weakened the defence of the islands, transferring to Ukraine all the BMP1s, which were mainly located on the disputed islands and in Epirus, as a means to resist the landing, hoping that Turkey will take this as a gesture of goodwill. As well as a large number of grenade launchers and other military equipment.
Turkey often used refugees and migrants as an instrument of pressure on Greece, which often faces not only the geopolitical but also the humanitarian aspect of the issue.
In light of this, the Greek armed forces in eastern Aegean continue to move with a heightened degree of vigilance and readiness to respond if necessary. However, until now, the main combat activity of the Turkish Armed Forces is the Efes-2022 military exercises, which take place within the boundaries of its territorial waters and without interference, in some cases thanks to the participation of the United States in them.
Meanwhile, Athens was diplomatically active, promoting Greek positions and emphasising Turkish aggression. Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided Greek embassies and representations abroad with 16 maps, from 1972 to the present, that show how Turkey’s claim to influence over more than half of the Aegean has changed.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also briefed foreign leaders. They showed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz a map of the Ankara-backed “Blue Homeland” doctrine that envisions Turkish influence over large swaths of the eastern Mediterranean emphasising Turkish revisionism.