Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral James Stavridis of the US Navy, has dismissed the notion that Greece and Turkey could end up in a ‘shooting war’ amid tensions in the Aegean.
Speaking on the latest episode of the Ouzo Talk Podcast, Stavridis, who led the NATO alliance between 2009-2013 and now serves as Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News, says that he sees no scenario of a ‘hot-war’ between the two neighbouring countries and NATO allies, but that the Alliance would be quick to side with Greece in the unlikely event of a conflict.
"I didn’t at the time, nor do I now lay awake at night thinking Turkey is actually going to seize one of those islands – I just don’t see it,” Stavridis told Ouzo Talk during the wide-ranging discussion.
“Why I think that, is because Turkey knows (that) at the end of the day if it were Turkey attacking Greece – and let’s be honest here, Greece is certainly not going to attack Turkey – there’s only one way this starts in your hypothetical, and that would be Turkey attacking Greek territory.
“If they did that, the rest of the Alliance, I am very confident would stand with Greece, and that’s an overwhelming force. Turkey is not going to put itself in that situation – the Turks are smarter than that.
“The ship of danger has sailed in the sense that they (Greece) are part of the Alliance, and the Alliance is not going to allow Greece to be attacked either by a non-Nato ally, or a Nato ally. That’s why we have this alliance, and that’s why Sweden and Finland want to join it.
“I am confident in Greece’s stature and place in the Alliance – it would be defended.”
Asked about Turkey’s daily overflights and incursions into Greek territory in the air and sea, Stavridis, whose grandparents were evacuated from Smyrna in 1922 as refugees, admitted that the illegal practice was one he struggled with during his time as Supreme Allied Commander.
“Greece has every right to put up surveillance and be capable of controlling airspace, and controlling the seas around what is undoubtedly Greek territory,” says Stavridis.
“Turkey ought to understand that clearly, and frankly when I spoke to Turkish military officers, they got that. There’s a domestic base that’s being played to here.
“He (President Erdogan) is playing to his base, and let’s observe that he’s in a tough election campaign.
“He’s got an election coming up in May at the moment – the date is kind of shifting around a little bit which is concerning in and of itself – and he has serious economic headwinds. I mean the Turkish economy is in a terrible state, largely due to bad decisions he has made.
“Landed on top of that is this terrible disaster (the earthquake), and the response at least thus far is not setting any records. He’s got a tough campaign, so he is going to attempt to demonstrate that he is a powerful international figure, that he can command respect and attention – he wants to appear strong.”
Stavridis’ comments come at a time of relative thawing of relations between Greece and Turkey, following the offering and acceptance of Greek assistance in response to the recent Turkish earthquakes.
Listen to the full episode with Admiral James Stavridis on Apple Podcasts.
Photos courtesy of www.admiralstav.com
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